Director: Shamim Sarif (2016)
We last saw Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson stealing scenes from Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), now she’s stealing state secrets and hearts in this soapy cold war romance.
Swooningly in love with its own conceits, it’s a thriller dressed and acted in the style of a 19th century period drama.
The multi-layered time hopping plot drifts between New York and Moscow in 1959, 1961 and 1992.
Ferguson valiantly attempts to hold it all altogether in a distracting double role.
As Russian dissident Katya, she falls in love with Sam Reid’s communist who she is using to procure state secrets for the US.
When she persuades him to defect, Katya is left behind and her fate is unknown.
Ferguson also plays Katya’s niece Lauren who travels to Russia years later to investigate her aunts disappearance.
Strategies of seduction and deception are employed as duty competes with passion. Vodka is drunk, chess is played and everyone visits the opera.
Adapting her own novel, Shamim Sarif directs in a straightforward manner, in thrall to her gorgeous cast as they pursue glamorous intrigues.
Discussions of art and food fail to generate urgency or paranoia and there’s an inexcusable lack of historical or political context.
The script is markedly uninterested in detail. We never learn exactly what the government secrets are or why there are important.
Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Antje Traue and Anthony Head offer support as best as they are able in the circumstances.
But when sprightly Charles Dance springs into a room to prompt an unveiling of secrets, the remaining credibility melts into soap opera slush. What’s left is as pretty and insubstantial as a snowflake.