Thursday, 19 May 2016


What an audience wants and what filmmakers often think it wants can amount to very different things. As tiresome as it may seem (to some, not to me), that knotty, twisty political thriller that you're promising us is likely to be significantly superior to the watered-down wannabe that you're actually delivering us. This is where Our Kind of Traitor, an otherwise innately compelling spy story, stumbles: it dilutes, diminishes, even outright abandons its crucial genre identity in pursuit of cheap thrills. Precedent tells the filmmakers that this is the done thing, and unimaginative filmmakers such as these are liable to take heed; precedent tells those with some objectivity on the matter that audiences don't much want this done thing... at least, this audience member doesn't. Films like Our Kind of Traitor aren't supposed to be resolved with action sequences, their plot twists justified by virtue of existing - they're supposed to be picked apart, their complexities uncovered and pored over. Goodness knows cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, - otherwise wholly unsuited to a film like this - tries, perhaps out of obligation, since neither writer Hossein Amini nor director Susanna White seems to try. They leave the qualities, those innately compelling ones, down to John le Carre, whose good work must go an even greater way toward providing the audience with what they really want. Our Kind of Traitor was never in danger of losing me altogether, then, since films in this vein rarely do. But it's a distinctly lost opportunity all the same.