A Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man ★★★★

I'll start where the film ends, a final shot of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman that underlines what a huge loss he is to cinema. An epitaph in its own way.

The shadow of Hoffman's passing hangs over the film and in many ways informs it. We're not in a slick spy world of Hollywood but in the dark, smoke-filled world of John Le Carre, where spying is dull and dirty work and wins are hard to come by. The various threads of the film come together slowly and the ultimate end is not obvious, even at the film's conclusion.

Hoffman portrays Gunther with utter world-weariness and looks at least 15 years older than he is. It's another compelling performance and it hurts that we will get nothing more from this giant. Of the remaining cast, there's the welcome addition of German acting royalty in Nina Hoss, giving Hoffman able support while Willem Dafoe is excellent as a compromised banker. If I have one criticism, it is that some of the other players are just too damn pretty by half and make their characters less believable.

Corbijn does a great job in bringing out the drabness of Hamburg, in a palette that can best be described as industrial chic. There is very little conventional action, but the film is no less thrilling for it and it feels tense throughout.

Farewell then Phil, you will be immensely missed.

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