Friday, March 31, 2017

Movie with Abe: Despite the Falling Snow

Despite the Falling Snow
Directed by Shamim Sarif
Released March 31, 2017

Espionage is a tricky business. Having never been involved personally with spying, my only experience and points of reference come from movies and television. In almost every case, it seems that building relationships under false pretenses usually leads to a compromising of the mission, with love trumping cause. There are many films and even a popular TV series about the Cold War and Russian spies, and this relatively standard drama is more of the same - a story about the often intersecting and treacherous world of political passion and personal romance.

Katya (Rebecca Ferguson) grows up in the Soviet Union, angry at her country because it cost her parents their lives. She works as a spy for the United States, in league with Misha (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and sets her sights on a target, young, eager politician Sasha (Sam Reid). Inevitably, she begins to feel things for him that she never expected to, and sends him to the United States to defect. She assures him that she is right behind him, but, reflecting on what happened thirty years later, an older Sasha (Charles Dance), who has built a successful life for himself in America, still does not know what has become of her. When his niece, Lauren (also Ferguson) travels to the fallen Soviet Union, things become clearer and Sasha begins to piece together what happened after his departure.

The film begins with the older Sasha, who initially is quite surprised and unhappy to learn that Lauren is planning to visit his home country since he has come so far from that and put it behind him. The film goes back and forth between the past and the present, as Lauren meets Marina (Antje Traue), who proves to be her own alluring Russian contact, and more of how Katya and Sasha became close is revealed. There’s not a clear boundary between the two times, and having one actress play both parts is an interesting experiment that helps to connect the times.

Ferguson is well-known for her award-nominated role in the miniseries “The White Queen” and in the film “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.” Here, she strongly embodies two different characters, each with allegiances to the people they have come to care about that might not have been nearly as important when they first met. From the cast, Dance, recognizable to many from “Game of Thrones,” is a standout, but the film doesn’t give him all that much to do. This is an intriguing premise but one that neither in story nor format offers much in the way of cutting-edge novelty.


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