“Every person deserves a defence.
Every person matters.”
James Donovan, Tom Hanks
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]teven Spielberg’s latest film is an unexpectedly heart-warming tale of the budding friendship between two men on opposite sides of the Cold War. Based on a true story, Bridge of Spies follows US lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) as he is recruited to defend the alleged Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), and coordinate the negotiations for the release of a downed US spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), in Russia.
For a film with such a big politically charged backdrop, the story is surprisingly well focused and personal – and this is why I think I the story worked so well. Instead of solely focusing on the bigger aspects of that time period (Cold War, the Berlin Wall etc), the story is focused on the relationship of the two of the main characters – James Donovan (Tom Hanks) and Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). The film is a triumph in its depiction of humanity prevailing over political corruption.
Honestly, I can’t believe that I didn’t see this film sooner. With all the hype surrounding Spectre, I think that Bridge of Spies may have slipped under many people’s radar. All I can say is that they really, really missed out. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Bridge of Spies was undoubtedly the better spy film and one of the best films that I’ve seen all year.
Whilst not necessarily Spielberg’s magnum opus – which I do not say lightly to a very good film – it is undoubtedly another feat of cinematic brilliance for him. The film has a wonderfully witty and emotionally charged script (thanks in large part to the Coen brothers participation), with comically endearing lines such as “would it help?” becoming the leitmotif of the film.
However, were I think the magic of this film lies is that the viewer cares so much about the fate of the Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, which is wholly down to the continued first-class performances from Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance. And I’m not ashamed to say that I think we all shed a little tear as we see him walk off into an uncertain future across the bridge.
With a horde of well-deserved award nominations – including 6 Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Rylance and Best Original Screenplay) –Bridge of Spies has joined the ranks of my top favourite films of 2015 (if not one of my favourite movies of all time). If you haven’t seen it, you are definitely missing out on a fabulous film that is also one of Tom Hank’s best late-career performances and an understated piece of cinematic gold.