In Julian Mitchell's adaptation of his own award-winning play (a naive and romanticised exploration of how ruling-class attitudes in the '30s were shaped), we are asked to believe that a brilliant young homosexual (modelled on Guy Burgess) turns eastwards to communism and the USSR when he is passed over for election to an exclusive prefects' society at his public school. Where the original play was long and more meditative, making suspension of disbelief at least possible, here it just seems like nonsense. There are compensations: Kanievska successfully overcomes the theatrical origins, and Everett turns in an electric performance. As for the rest, the film persuades you that the past is indeed another country, while offering an unreliable guide to its landscape.
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