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What drives a person to commit an act of treason? For Physics student Joan (Sophie Cookson), it begins at Cambridge in the 1930s where the shadows of war are threatening. Although she attends socialist group meetings mainly because she is drawn to an exotic Russian, Sonya (Tereza Srbova) and her handsome and charismatic cousin, Leo (Tom Hughes), post-university she is initially sickened by their attempts to enlist her into their world of espionage. Fast forward 50 years, however, and a frail, elderly woman (Judi Dench) is suddenly arrested and interrogated. Now she must attempt to explain to her astonished family and a very different world what her intentions truly were.

Loosely based on a real story, Director Trevor Nunn’s tale can be plodding at times, and the twists are none-too-subtle. Some may also complain Dame Judi is under-utilised. But then again, wasn’t it a Russian who once said ‘there are no small parts, only small actors.’

★★★

 

Reviewed by Craig Coventry