The Russia House

Film , Thrillers
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(3 user reviews)
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John Le Carré's far-from-best novel gets the big-bucks treatment: Connery and Pfeiffer in unlikely amorous conjunction; script by the much-employed Tom Stoppard; a strong supporting cast; and ravishing location work in Moscow and Leningrad. Pfeiffer can act, but her assumption of a role for which her pouty glamour is inappropriate - a Russian office-worker seen rubbing shoulders in the bus queues - is a jarring note in a film which brings from Connery, as bluff, incorrigible, jazz-loving publisher Barley Blair, his finest performance in ages. And almost as an antidote to Pfeiffer's restrained Hollywoodness, there is Brandauer, oozing rugged charm and earnestness as the dissident scientist who sets this spy-versus-spy thriller moving. Overtaken by East-West events, and with an over-optimistic ending which sets personal against political loyalty, it's still highly enjoyable, wittily written, and beautiful to behold in places, at others somehow too glossy for its own good.

Release details

Duration: 123 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Fred Schepisi
Screenwriter: Tom Stoppard
Cast: Sean Connery
Michelle Pfeiffer
Roy Scheider
James Fox
John Mahoney
Michael Kitchen
JT Walsh
Ken Russell
David Threlfall
Klaus Maria Brandauer

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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nicknickn
Tastemaker

This is a John Le Carre novel given the Hollywood treatment. The story is as complex as you would expect from a Le Carre story, you will need your full faculties about you to decipher who is lying to whom, and the twists will keep you interested right until the end. Even the ending was unexpected given the author's earlier stories but it is often nice to be surprised.

It was released in 1990 and is packed with big names of the time. It has Sean Connery, Michelle Pfeiffer, Roy Scheider, James Fox - it even has Ken Russell, acting as eccentrically as he directed. Sean Connery plays a jazz loving book publisher and is as good as I have ever seen him. Michelle Pfeiffer and Roy Scheider are excellent too, in quite complex roles.

For me though, the real star of the movie was Russia. It was one of the earliest movies to be allowed to shoot on location in the Soviet Union. Moscow and Leningrad (St Petersburg now) look austere, monumental and beautiful.

The settings here capture a time and place perfectly; adding an extra dimension to an already vey good film.