Wednesday, 2 December 2015


A simple thriller about a complex time, Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies neatly balances the typical Spielberg directness with which it makes its point with the innate indirectness of that point. The politics and the particulars are twisty, but the moral thread is straight and strong, a sturdy comparator upon which to relate varying degrees of blinkered patriotism and to ground the film. Would that it actually needed grounded - Bridge of Spies isn't exactly designed as the kind of film to take flight exatly, its restraint being all too central to its success, but its plain, uncomplicated efficiency both stabilises and neutralises its political hysteria, forming both balance and barriers for the film. But it's an easy film to read into, and intentionally so, as Spielberg intends to put forward the purpose of the screenplay, by Matt Charman and Ethan and Joel Coen, with clarity. His depictions of the different motivations behind East and West during the Cold War may not be measured, but they needn't always be anyway, and the film is incisive on the matter of the manifestations of patriotism from one nation to the next, and its potential to make integrity its first casualty. American injustice seeps down from the top; Soviet injustice has been hammered into mass consciousness. And the distinction between right and wrong becomes erased entirely, opposite extremes revealed as arbitrary end points on a circle, meeting in precisely the same place. Bridge of Spies has much more to comment upon politically than stylistically, but it's a finely crafted drama-thriller with smart technical and artistic credits and a reliably steadfast moral centre.