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Ian Holm is excellent in this period piece from the tail end of the cold
war. Helen Mirren, Celia Gregory and Nigel Havers all support well -
is even a tiny cameo from a very youthful Rupert Everett.
I'm a big fan of Poliakoff as both a stage and TV/film writer, but have always found his stage work filmic and therefore am finding a preference for his TV/Film work. In true Poliakoff style, there are sinister undertones, but how much is espionage, how much is prejudice and how much is paranoia?
This is a superb TV film and well worth seeking out if you haven't seen it.
Helen Mirren At the BBC, disc 5.
This is a wonderful example of BBC drama at its best. Ian Holm is excellent as Alexei, the very low level Soviet operative in London, whose work seems to consist of taping trash TV shows for the delectation of people in Moscow. He is very bored with his "work", as who wouldn't be, and wants to be sent home. He understands that returning home can only depend on getting into trouble of a relatively minor nature--a slight car accident with no-one hurt might do the job, or being drunk and obnoxious in public. Imagine Alexei's despair when he finds he's so insignificant in the food chain that nobody wants to expel him.
Besides Ian Holm, Nigel Havers is fun to watch as the lanky FO man who presses Alexei into his entourage, and Celia Gregory (an actress I hadn't seen before) is mysterious as Frances the party girl. Helen Mirren plays the desperate Celia, whom Alexei falls for, hopelessly.
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