Director: Sean Ellis (2016) BBFC cert: 15

This agonising account of espionage and assassination makes for a gut wrenching watch.

It’s a handsome dramatisation of Operation Anthropoid, the real life mission to the eliminate Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler’s third in command and architect of the Final Solution.

As well as being a ferocious entertainment, Anthropoid is a moving testament to the astonishing defiance and sacrifice of the country’s citizens under the rule of the Nazi known as the Butcher of Prague.

Sean Ellis produces, directs and co-writes with confidence and authority. Filming on location, the autumnal palette weathers the lovingly crafted period detail with a sepia tone. It’s use heralds a ferocious finale and recalls the final moments of Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969).

Betrayal is a recurring idea, perpetrated on the country and its citizens on an international, local and individual level. The British government is not spared admonishment.

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan are terrific as patriots Jozef and Jan who risk torture and execution when they return by parachute to their homeland, Czechoslovakia.

Making contact with the pitiful remnants of the resistance, they discover Prague in the winter of 1941 is caught in a blizzard of suspicion and paranoia. There’s little safety in this turbulent world of coded conversations, cyanide capsules and clandestine meetings on park benches.

Anna Geislerova and Charlotte Le Bon are local ladies who soften the boys’ demeanour and raise their personal investment. One soldier becomes less fatalistic and the other learns to lead.

This intimate investment in the characters allows for fleeting humour and desperate romance. We fear the repercussions of the attack on those on the periphery of the plotting as much as for the main conspirators.

Among the remainder of the strong supporting cast, stalwart character actor Toby Jones offers dignified concern.

The sometimes graphic but always purposeful and excellently staged action culminates in the Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius, where the bullet holes sustained in the actual fight can still be seen.




The Hundred Foot Journey

Director: Lasse Hallström (2014)

There’s a generous helping of charm and humour in this culinary culture clash.

Talented young Indian chef Hassan (Manish Dayal) is taught to cook by his mum but when she dies in a riot, his Papa (Om Puri) moves the family to Europe for safety.

The family are rescued from a car crash in rural France by local beauty Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). An aspiring chef, she cycles about in vintage frocks with the doe-eyed appeal of Audrey Hepburn.

Seduced by the quality of the local food and setting, Papa decides to open an Indian restaurant. The family then energetically set about renovating a derelict bistro into a loud and colourful eatery.

Gifted Hassan manages to mix traditional Indian recipes with French cuisine, much to the anger of Madame Mallory who owns a restaurant a hundred feet away. She’s played by a terrifically tart Helen Mirren who has great fun as the extravagantly accented workaholic widow.

Normally I would choke on the film’s symbolic use of food, adoration of cooks and idealised view of the French. But the deft direction, spicy script and engaging performances make for an indulgent blend.

As Madame Mallory and Papa lock horns, the younger ones lock lips – but simmering passions cool when she poaches Hassan and promotes him above Marguerite. Further success sees Hassan working in Paris but Michelin stars and celebrity fail to feed his soul.

The finale serves up no surprises and if living in France were as satisfying as this film suggests, we’d all be moving there.