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The Russia House

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The Russia House (buy from Amazon)

Posted by Sigrid

Type: Drama, USA 1990

Director: Fred Schpisi

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Sean Connery... Barley Blair
Michelle Pfeiffer .... Katya

Barley (Connery), a hard-drunking, middle-aged London publisher, became friends with a dissident Soviet physicist on a drunken evening. He soon found himself being drawn into the espionage business. During his mission, Barley came to know Katya (Pfeiffer), the physicist's former girlfriend, whom he had to save from the Russian military intelligence.

My review:
Based on a spy novel by John Le Carre, this movie set out to capture the age of glasnost in the former Soviet Union. It was filmed mostly in Moscow and Leningrad, with some beautiful scenes shot in Lisbon.

The plot itself is intriguing and Connery turned out a masterful peformance as a hard-drunking, middle-aged, book publisher who managed to outwit both the British secret service and the CIA. One memorable scene showed Connery playing the saxophone at a Moscow book fair.

Unfortunately, the subtlety of the spy novel did not play well on the movie screen. Perhaps the editing could have been done better as well. I would think that most moviegoers got lost initially towards the end. As a result, some time had to be spent to recapture what happened -- and the entire effect was dumbed-down.

While some would call this a thriller, the movie was strongly reminiscient of "mini-series" produced by the major (American) TV networks in the late-1980s.

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