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Time Out says
Fri Aug 26 2011Showcasing the writing of David Hare (in his first original screenplay for 20 years) at both its most pithily inspired and frustratingly mannered, ‘Page Eight’ follows amiable, honorable MI5 veteran Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy, in his element) as he uncovers malfeasance at the highest levels of government when his boss (Michael Gambon, likewise) grants him access to a distinctly dodgy dossier. But there’s also a typically discursive quality that addresses trangressions on the West Bank, despair in modern art and the romantic cadences of Blue Note jazz. This is slick, grown-up, thoroughly enjoyable entertainment.
But with production levels so high (London looks magnificent) and class so abundant from top to bottom both on camera and behind it, a sense of mild disappointment lingers. The political jousting crackles with wit and tension, but the context feels dated and lacking in both sophistication and sense of surprise. Rachel Weisz is unhappily lumbered with the role of love interest and walking plot exposition, although the rest of the cast has a ball. Ewen Bremner, Judy Davis and Ralph Fiennes (the latter as liberal interventionist PM Alec Beasley – initials not, perhaps, entirely conincidental) tuck into every aphorism with relish, but deliver the political agenda with a sometimes wavering conviction. At its best, however, ‘Page Eight’ holds the attention effortlessly, and the climax is both well judged and convincing. Hare directs with assurance as the plot weaves through various obscenely well-appointed locales (and the odd roadside café for the juiciest revelations). And in moral, world-weary Worricker, we have a true Harry Palmer for the modern age.
Author: Gabriel Tate