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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Perfect Intersection of Stoppard and Bates

10/10
Author: grafspe
20 March 2007

This rare, hard to find, made for TV film is as fast paced, as witty, and as bewildering as anything Tom Stoppard has written. Alan Bates plays the eye of the hurricane, the perfect, understated, thoroughly British, spymaster cum civil servant. He is plagued, as is everyone in the film, by his hobbies, and must deal with the failed suicide of one of his spies, who clearly didn't get it. Can there be anything more embarrassing than a suicide note that circulates while you are living? How very, very British of Stoppard. A delightful setup, all within the first two minutes(!), expertly exploited by Stoppard's intensely rich characters. That every one of them is so fully developed in just over an hour, speaks volumes for both Stoppard and the cast. Clearly, I liked it.

This role, plus the incomparable performance in Butley define Alan Bates for me. The stage presence, commanding your attention, has always been astonishing. The ultimate proof of Bates' talent was when he played opposite Olivier the last time, and despite his own reputation and stature, purposely ceded the spotlight and did not compete. A truly excellent and underrated actor was Alan Bates.

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