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Movie Review: ‘Our Kind of Traitor’

Synopsis & Info:

A money launderer (Stellan Skarsgård) for Russian gangsters asks a couple vacationing in Marrakech, Morocco, to deliver incriminating evidence to an MI6 agent (Damian Lewis).
Release date: July 1, 2016 (USA)
Director: Susanna White
Screenplay: Hossein Amini
Story by: John le Carré
Producers: Stephen Cornwell, Simon Cornwell
Our Kind Of Traitor
Our Kind Of Traitor


Our Kind of Traitor revolves around the idea of things not being what they should, carrying the viewer through a fast paced tale of intrigue that centers around one man’s inability to deviate from his principles. The attractive British couple seem the marriage of opposites. Perry (Ewan McGregor) is a professor of poetics, what we would call a romantic, married to a successful barrister wife, Gail (Naomie Harris), who is the yang to his yin. On a holiday in Marrakech to rekindle romance, the relationship politics make it tough for Perry to fan the flames. What sparks off instead is a chance invite Perry receives from flamboyant Russian Dima, whose apparent wealth and excessive lifestyle dazzles Perry. In short order, Perry is drawn in to Dima’s personal circle and shone a kind of attention and affection otherwise missing from his life. Dima’s circle becomes a noose that slowly tightens around Perry’s neck.

While Gail is juggling her professional responsibilities during the couple’s holiday in Marrakech, Perry is now fully absorbed by charismatic Dima’s invitations. From the first night Perry meets Dima he is drawn in to a Russian party, a bacchanal in which Perry naively attempts to defend a woman from a heavily tattooed man. Dima laughs as Perry’s gentlemanly chivalry supersedes his common sense, the tattooed man a criminal with jailhouse mementos covering his skin would not be a smart opponent for a scrawny British professor. Dima takes Perry in to his confidence quickly, with typical bravado.

As Perry believes that all is as it appears to be, he is not terribly reluctant to help Dima, whose plea is to save not only himself but his family which includes two orphaned girls and Dima’s three children. Perry doesn’t think it a terrible risk to travel a USB memory stick back to the UK and deliver it to M16 at Heathrow as Dima implores him to. Perry accepts all of Dima’s invites without consulting his wife Gail, whose legal mind most likely would have shut down any such activity immediately. The further strain to the couple’s marriage shows, but now the events are set in motion and Gail is propelled in to Dima’s schemes through no fault of her own.

The Prince personifies the somber and aggressive culture of the Vory, or Russian mafia. The new Prince is consolidating his inner circle and weeding out the old guard, his father’s people, a list that includes Dima. The mortal danger that Dima has placed Perry and Gail in by drawing them in to his world bubbles beneath the surface as the British couple continues to follow Dima’s plot. However, now that M16 is involved the intrigue widens considerably. London is a key player in the schemes that the Prince has for his new version of the Vory.

The slow motion opening shot of the film is a visual poetry of ballet that is superimposed against the snow dusted Russian countryside. Our Kind of Traitor travels through cold Russia to steamy Morocco, to the gray asphalt and grandiose architecture of London and Paris to the sweeping green beauty of the Alps. A journey of contradictions in both the characters and the settings occurs, where there is so much beauty there is also so much danger and corruption.

Perry carries the honor and burden of particularly British scruples, he is decidedly moral even while descending further in to the underworld of Dima’s reality. The decision Perry makes to help Dima is born not just from his belief system but also from the desire to leap out of the rut that his life and marriage have got stuck in. That leap of faith that Perry makes leads ultimately to the salvation of the characters involved in this story, who we would generically label as “the good guys”.

Our Kind of Traitor is based on the hit John le Carré novel, adapted for the screen by the writer of Drive Hossein Amini and directed superbly by the well experienced and acclaimed Sussana White. The cinematography of Anthony Dod Mantle and the music score by Marcelo Zarvos lend the story the visual and acoustic dynamics necessary to fully immerse the audience in the world of Perry, Gail, Dima, the Vory and the M16. Once past the gripping opening scene, the film has a hook in and doesn’t let go. As effective as Dima is in recruiting Perry for his needs, so the story captures the viewer to go along for the journey.

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