AN ORDEAL, BUT MORE FOR VIEWERS THAN FOR THE CHARACTERS.
This is an example of what Canadians describe as a "Stars and Stripes" movie, that is, a film shot on Canadian soil functioning as surrogate for other lands, Quebec filling in for Russia in this instance, with non-Canadian actors being principals, as here when England's Michael York portrays a Soviet official, others being Americans Colleen Dewhurst and Burgess Meredith. Production difficulties troubled the piece from its beginnings and, after a week of shooting, director Paul Almond is called upon to take the helm of "Iron Curtain", its working title (changed to "Moscow Chronicles", eventually to "Final Assignment"), but Almond is faced with two forbidding obstacles; a woeful script and a shallow performance by his wife, Genevieve Bujold, as Canadian journalist Nicole Thomson. Nicole convinces her employer to assign her to cover a Moscow-based disarmament conference between the U.S.S.R. and Canadian governments, and while in the Soviet capital she becomes romantically enmeshed with the press liaison officer (York) and also discovers a research program whereby scientists are utilizing young children as subjects for steroid experimentation, a dangerous project that Nicole chooses to investigate at the risk of her safety. She commits espionage by attempting to smuggle from the country the ailing granddaughter of a prominent scientist (Dewhurst) along with a video tape that reveals detailed research proceedings, and with assistance from a Canadian fur merchant (Meredith) she leads the K.G.B upon a merry chase. The film is of a genre that depicts a large agency, historically successful in its ordained purpose, e.g., Gestapo, S.S., C.I.A., K.G.B., et alia, that readily becomes befuddled and completely accommodating to an individual's plans to undermine it: seldom even remotely believable, and certainly not in this picture that surprisingly was nominated for Canada's Genie awards for best actress (Bujold), screenplay, editing, and sound editing, leading one to deduce that pickings must have been lean that year since Bujold is as unfocussed as is the scenario, while the sound dubbing and mixing are below par; Dewhurst handily outshines other members of the cast.
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