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Film Review: A Most Wanted Man

On July 30, 2014

By Sophia Whitfield

Based on the 2008 bestselling John le Carre novel, A Most Wanted Man is a tale of love and intrigue.

It is the film in which Philip Seymour Hoffman gives his final performance in a leading role. Described by director Anton Corbijn as “a giant of a man”, Hoffman gives everything as the German accented Gunter Bachmann.

Bachmann leads a team of spies in Hamburg, an anti-terror group, dedicated to watching over the Islamic community. It has been a decade since the terrorist attacks of September 11 but the city of Hamburg still remains on high alert. Bachmann’s team includes the astute Irna Frey (Nina Moss) and Maximillian (Daniel Bruhl). Their interest is sparked when Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) a half- Chechen, half- Russian dishevelled young man turns up in the Islamic community. He has no money, no form of identity and has been brutally tortured.

Finding lodgings with a well meaning mother and son, Karpov is introduced to idealistic human rights lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams). He lays claim to his father’s fortune, a Russian criminal he has no respect for and no interest in. Under the watchful eye of Bachmann and his team Richter attempts to make contact with the bank on Karpov’s behalf to expedite the release of his inheritance.

Both US and German agencies take an interest in Karpov watching his every move. Bachmann trusts no one as he puts his game into play. Constantly chain smoking and drinking, he isolates himself from those around him.

With so much detail in le Carre’s book there are inherent difficulties with condensing this novel into a two hour film. However Australian screenwriter Andrew Bovell has done a fine job creating a believable and less complicated plot, but it is Hoffman’s brilliance that will keep you engaged.

Hoffman portrays the troubled solitary Bachmann with intelligence and gravity. It is the final curtain for a great actor, one who leaves behind an outstanding legacy.

A Most Wanted Man is released in cinemas across Australia tomorrow.

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