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Red Joan (2018)

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The story of Joan Stanley, who was exposed as the KGB's longest-serving British spy.

Director:

Trevor Nunn

Writers:

Lindsay Shapero (screenplay), Jennie Rooney (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Judi Dench ... Joan Stanley
Sophie Cookson ... Young Joan
Stephen Campbell Moore ... Max Davis
Tom Hughes ... Leo Galich
Freddie Gaminara ... William Mitchell
Laurence Spellman ... Patrick Adams
Tereza Srbova ... Sonya Galich
Ben Miles ... Nick
Robin Soans ... Clement Attlee
Kevin Fuller ... Detective Philips
Stephen Boxer ... Peter Kierl
Simon Ludders ... Ship's Captain
Steven Hillman ... Prison Guard
Ciarán Owens ... Detective Hughes
Phill Langhorne ... Uniformed Officer
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Storyline

English born Joan Stanley, a Soviet and communist party sympathizer, becomes employed as a British government civil servant, and gets recruited by the KGB in the mid 1930s. She successfully transfers nuclear bomb secrets to the Soviet Union (Russia), which enables them to keep up with the west in the development of atomic weapons, and remains undetected as a spy for over a half a century. Written by Unknownian

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Inspired by True Events See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Embankment Films

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 April 2019 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Red Joan See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,578,985, 2 July 2019
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Trademark Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Loosely based on the real life case of Civil Servant Melita Norwood (1912-2005) who successfully passed classified information about the British Atomic program to the Russians in the 1940s & 50s. This was only discovered in 1992 by which time the Ministry of Defence declined to prosecute the then 80 year old . See more »

Quotes

Joan Stanley: I was fighting for the living, I loved my country!
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User Reviews

 
side note to history
19 April 2019 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Sir Trevor Nunn is a Tony Award winner best known for his stage productions, and for being director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1968 through 1986. The film is "inspired by a true story", and Lindsay Shapero has adapted Jennie Rooney's 2013 novel, which was a blend of history and fiction taken from the life of Melita Norwood ... the longest serving British KGB spy.

Dame Judi Dench plays Joan Stanley (the movie version of the aforementioned Ms. Norwood) whom we first meet as she is being arrested for treason by MI5 agents in May 2000. Most of the film consists of Joan being interrogated while having flashbacks to her earlier life, beginning in 1938 at Cambridge University. She was a hard-working nose-to-the grindstone Physics student who is drawn in to the fascinating world of Sonja (Tereza Srbova) and her brother Leo (Tom Hughes), who are supporters of the Soviet party. In the flashback scenes, young Joan is played by Sophie Cookson (who reminds of a young Faye Dunaway).

The film spends most of its time in flashback mode, and Ms. Cookson excels as the idealistic Joan first in her scenes with Sonja and Leo, and later with Stephen Campbell Moore who plays Professor Max Davies. Joan is recruited to work in the lab with Davies, as the secretly work to create the Atom bomb. It's Sonja and Leo who coerce Joan into passing along secret documents that allow Stalin's Russia to keep pace on bomb development. She easily flies under the radar since, as Sonja tells her, "Nobody would suspect us. We are women."

From a historical perspective, the film kind of falls flat. It also doesn't qualify as a British spy thriller since there are really no thrills to be found. "The Americans" TV show was infinitely better at the spy genre than this one; however, if the film works on any level, it's as moral debate fodder. Joan clearly has her reasons for doing what she thought was right ... leveling the playing field between super powers, so that none had an advantage. The question is, what is right and who is to decide? During this time, alliances were quite fluid between Russia, Britain and the United States, and she believed her actions saved lives.

Dame Judi is really not on screen much, and when she is, there's little for her to do except play innocent and dream of years gone by. She was labeled "Granny spy", and though her story is interesting, and does provide yet another aspect from WWII, the film itself never really grabs us as viewers. The early periods are well filmed with beautiful costumes and sets, but we are never as dumbstruck as Joan's son (Ben Miles) when he admits he thought his mum was merely an over-educated librarian. As a character study, there's something here ... but as entertainment, it's a bit lacking.


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