John Swanson

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The Best Movie

My vote for the best movie ever goes to The Russia House, one of John le Carré's amazing stories of intrigue set in the cold war era. It is difficult to find a film which matches The Russia House in any of the following categories, much less in all of them.

Story and Plot. This is a story of how people care for one another and overcome the follies of their governments, set in Glasnost Moscow at the end of the cold war. It succeeds both as a spy story and a love story.

Dialogue. Easily the most intellignet of any film I have seen. The use of the language by the author and diction by the Engligh actors add to the brilliance.

Sean Connery. An all-time great at his best.
Michelle Phfeifer. Perhaps the weakest performance of any of the principles because she was only excellent. She convinced me she was an editor in Moscow.
James Fox. Perfect as a conservative British spy-master.
Ken Russell. Delightful as an assistant spy-master.
Nicholas Woodenson. Great as a bookseller in a bit part. He was one of the featured players in HBO's series Rome.
Klaus Maria Brandauer. The troubled Russian scientest; another perfect performance. Roy Scheider, J.T. Walsh (an American version of Michael Caine). Both superb.

Music. The score features Branford Marsalis playing haunting medolies perfectly suited to the action.

Cinematography. The views of Russia, Lenningrad (St. Petersburg) and Moscow, along with the music make the film worthwhile even in there was no story, no acting. There are also scenes in Lisbon, Vancouver, and London.

Last update: March 31, 2009