Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bridge of Spies

2015, US, directed by Steven Spielberg

Absolutely classical in construction, if not always its shot choices, and I mean that entirely as a compliment -- this is Spielberg entering grand-old-man territory, absolutely in control of his craft and making expert use of the possibilities afforded by the double narrative of the film (the first part focuses on the trial of a spy in the US, the second on the release of an American spy-plane pilot from the USSR). The doubling is echoed time and again in juxtapositions and contrasts -- everything down to the way that Mark Rylance and Tom Hanks sniffle through parts of the film, though also in larger ways, such as the implicit comparison between two different kinds of show trial. On the visual level, the colour palette is used to create yet more contrast -- the striking blues and wide open spaces of the American air force base against, say, the grey, hulking streets of East Berlin. It's not often that I celebrate the virtues of a big budget but you sure see the dollars up there on the screen, most notably in those intensely detailed Berlin cityscapes, although there's a real pleasure in the recreated Brooklyn of the opening, too.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States