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Page Eight movie review

Published on July 2016 | Categories: Types, Reviews, Film | Downloads: 72 | Comments: 0
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Page Eight (2011)Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon

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Page Eight
(2011)
Apparently this was a British made-for-TV movie, and since I don’t have BBC America (or cable, for that matter), I had little chance of seeing it broadcast; but someone smart across the pond released it on DVD, and I thank whomever for it. Another in a long line of sharp British dramas, this film only reinforces why I love Brit TV (well, most of it. I just couldn’t get into The IT Crowd. Tried. Couldn’t.) Page Eight follows one Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy), an intelligence analyst with MI:5 as he uncovers a secret about the Prime Minister, one that could have considerable repercussions. His boss, Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon), spars verbally with the Home Secretary, and people within his department don’t seem to be terribly on the level. Adding a level of complexity is his intriguing neighbor, Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz), who claims to be half-Syrian, looking for justice for her brother, who was allegedly slain by the Israeli army while protesting for the Palestinians. Worricker must decide what to do with the information he has, sidestepping other members of MI:5 as well as the PM’s agents, all the while trying to help Nancy, who herself might be a trap/ruse/unfriendly agent. We’ve all seen stories like this – where damaging information is suppressed and the attempts to keep it that way grow increasingly ruthless as the story proceeds – but for some reason the Brits seem to excel at it (see also, please, State of Play). The tension and uncertainty are used to terrific effect here, and I was almost leaning forward in my chair to see what would happen next. The atmosphere adds to the paranoia, mostly taking place in dark, rainy London, although there are a few breaks for sanity at a country house or two. Nighy is sharply superb here. He’s instantly likable and easy to root for, and Johnny is, like most protagonists in this sort of thing, the smartest guy in the room. But for all that Nighy renders him fallible and human (regrets about an ex-wife and daughter), and unusually vulnerable for this type of cool, calculating hero. He centers the piece, but Weisz is also excellent, keeping us slightly off-kilter. Her performance is natural, but it always feels like she’s holding something back, and you always want to know what’s going on inside Nancy’s head. Straight down the line everyone else is top notch – I’d expect nothing less from Gambon, but each role all the way down to the smallest is cast and acted just perfectly (Ralph Fiennes even channels a little Voldemort as the PM). Though this is not a new genre, Page Eight is a smart example of how to adroitly execute an espionage/suspense movie – quick moving, smart, lean, well-acted, wholly engrossing. It stands well against others of its type – I was put in mind often of State of Play, never a bad thing (and, well, there’s a Nighy connection there too). Unless you just can’t stand the Brits (??), you owe it to yourself to see this one. It is that good. November 18, 2011

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