Red Joan, the Trevor Nunn directed drama / biography based on the true story of Melita Stedman Norwood, the KGB’s longest serving British spy isn’t quite what I’d hoped.
Not that I was expecting James Bond level antics, however, even though Red Joan is adequately acted, there’s a certain absence of excitement in Nunn’s story. I remained curious enough to watch till the end, but the way the movie is written and edited certainly didn’t allow for me to become very strongly invested emotionally in how things would turn out for the protagonist(s).
Furthermore, I felt as though not enough was delved into as deeply as needed. For example, the film barely sold Joan to me as a person who really believed in saving the world. Assuming she wasn’t lying about her motivations, I wanted to know and understand if by the end she was in fact delusional or was she to some level effective in her mission, as she believed.
Sure, watch Red Joan if you absolutely must. Otherwise, for a loosely similar but far more brilliantly executed film… The Imitation Game (2014).
Stephen Frears – director of The Queen (2006) which starred Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen has a new movie based on another British monarch, one who’s played by Judi Dench. Also starring Olivia Williams, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Michael Gambon and Tim Pigott-Smith, the story of Victoria & Abdul focuses on Victoria’s unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.
Dame Judi Dench and the promising humour are all the reason I need to watch. There is however, my desire to see an ageing female monarch take charge of herself and others with aplomb.