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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Innocent (1993)

In 1990 as the Berlin Wall falls making way for a united Germany, an Englishman (Campbell Scott) recalls his involvement in the early 1950s in working for the Americans, lead by a brash American (Anthony Hopkins), by tapping lines into the Russian sector. But his involvement with a mysterious German woman (Isabella Rossellini) leads to a heinous crime that will mark their lives forever. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan (who also wrote the screenplay), this John Schlesinger (SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY) film was unceremoniously discarded by Miramax, its American distributor. It slipped under the movie radar of just about everybody when it opened in the U.S. in 1995 although it opened in Europe in 1993. It's a pity because it didn't deserve that fate. Part cold war thriller, part romance, part Hitchcock, Schlesinger takes his time in building the film for its payoff and when it comes, the film intensifies. Sadly, the film is severely compromised by the casting of the two male leads. The British Hopkins' American accent is dreadful and I'd venture to say the same about the American Scott's English accent ... if he attempted one. As they cancel each other out, it allows Rossellini to take center stage by default. The film has dashes of black humor (as did the novel I presume) that it could have used more of. Not essential cinema but if it comes across your path, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. With Hart Bochner, James Grant and Ronald Nitschke whose killing recalls TORN CURTAIN.

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