14th October 2020

Radhika Apte Shines In British Spy Thriller

A  Call To Spy

·       Starring Sara Megan Thomas, Stana Katic, Radhika Apte

·       Directed  by Lydia Dean Pilcher

·       Rating: ***

·       Move  over, Frieda Pinto, Move  over, Priyanka Chopra. Radhika Apte  has just  done  what could comfortably  be considered  the  best female character in  a foreign –language  film.

·       In this  brave and  inspirational  story  of  feminine courage, Apte is cast as  the  celebrated half-Indian World War 2  spy Noor Inaayat  who gets caught in France while spying  for Winston Churchill,  and is eventually  shot pointblank.

·       This isn’t a  spoiler. It’s destiny.

·       I  am  happy to inform that Radhika is  firstrate  in a  part that  needs  no  actorial support to exude a sense  of  nobility . She  simply takes over the character and burnishes it with   a  blend  of  vulnerability  and  valour.

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·        Yes, the two other  leading ladies have  more footage. But  that doesn’t make  Ms  Apte any less  apt. All three ladies are excellent in conveying the danger that they face  with  a courage that would make  even the most macho men blush. Producer  Sarah Megan Thomas  who plays the main protagonist Virginia Hall spent  years researching on Churchill’s  female  spies  who  went into Nazi territory unprotected.

·       Stana Katic is  firs-rate as a  spy recruiter with subtle gender issues stalking her at her workplace. I must admit the men are portrayed as  either shadowy or sleazy  or both.I didn’t come  away with one memorable male character.All the spies and Nazis were either spineless  or sadists. One of them  exclaims, “I’d love to throttle the limping bitch(Virginia Hall) with my bare hands.”

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·       The sporadic  look of  compassionate male attention   that came  our heroines’ ways were  squandered  away to  the  larger  cause. This is  no country  for romance or tenderness.

·       As  Virginia  Hall , Sarah  Megan Thomas  rightfully and rightly cast herself in the plummest  part. With only one leg and a  double dose  of  doughtiness, Ms Thomas’ Virginia Hall becomes a memorable  portrait of fearless femininity  unencroached upon  by  any creative apprehensions. The  director  Lydia  Dean  Pilcher’s  vision is  unfettered  by  the fear  of losing the audience.The narrative doesn’t indulge  in  crowd-pleasing tactics,though  some of the more cynical  viewers  may find  the  upbeat  ending  to Virginia Hall’s  escape adventure a tad unrealistic.

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·        But don’t forget: the  entire  situation  recreated in the film is  supremely surreal. Women with no experience in espionage thrown into the mouth  of  Nazi crocodiles and left to their own  devices.

·       Noor’s  mother’s scream from her house at  the end  of the  film will follow  you  out of this  ruminative  film filled  with  moments of  Pure Cinema .

·       Throughout the 2-hour  tension-filled  storytelling, I kept wondering if  Noor will escape  her fatal fate. That perhaps destiny can be re-written in cinema.  Sadly or gladly this is not that  kind of a film.

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