Monday, March 14, 2016
“At seven o’clock of a Caribbean morning, on the island of Antiqua, one Peregrine Makepiece, otherwise known as Perry, an all-round amateur athlete of distinction and until recently tutor in English literature at a distinguished Oxford college, played three sets of tennis against a muscular stiff-backed, bald, brown-eyed Russian man of dignified bearing in his middle fifties called Dima. How this match came about was quickly the subject of intense examination by British agents professionally disposed against the workings of chance. Yet the events leading up to it were on Perry’s side blameless.”In these opening lines to John LeCarre’s Our Kind of Traitor we meet Perry, played by Ewan McMcGregor in the film, an actor over a dozen years older than the 30 year old character as written by author. We also meet Dima, played by Stellan Skarsgård, neither bald, nor brown-eyed, nor in his mid-50’s. Skarsgård is actually in his mid-60’s.
Damian Lewis lacks the ‘flowing white hair tossed back in two untidy waves’ resembling ‘to Perry’s eye a Head of College of the old, dotty sort.” But I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.
And Naomie Harris is clearly not who LeCarre had in mind when he described Gail, Perry’s outspoken barrister girlfriend—so much more than your typical lead’s girlfriend role—with the words, “Nature had provided Gail with long, shapely legs and arms, high, small breasts, a lissom body, English skin, fine gold hair and a smile to light the gloomiest corners of life.” It’s the English skin and that gold hair where Harris veers away from LeCarre’s words, with thanks to open-eyed casting of Gail by director Susanna White, the kind of casting that we need more of if we’re to reflect the world we live in.
While the film’s imdb blurb doesn’t mention it, I sincerely hope they don’t edit out the tennis match that starts it all.
A couple find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch's plans to defect are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.