A finely crafted and beautifully acted adaptation of John Le Carre's glasnost-era spy thriller that never quite gets as gripping as it should. THE RUSSIA HOUSE was the first entirely US-produced film to be substantially filmed on location in the Soviet Union, and director Fred Schepisi
(PLENTY, ROXANNE) and his regular cinematographer Ian Baker make extensive--sometimes excessive--use of their marvelous settings. The film opens at a Moscow audio-book fair where a furtive Russian woman, Katya (Michelle Pfeiffer), is seeking a British publisher named Barley Blair. Katya has an
important manuscript she wishes to deliver to Blair, but he has elected not to attend. Desperate, she enlists the aid of another exhibitor, Niki Landau (Nicholas Woodeson), imploring him to help her by smuggling the manuscript out of Moscow and giving it to Blair in London. Landau agrees to help,
but when he arrives in London, he turns the manuscript over to British intelligence, who want to know more about the entire matter. Blair (Sean Connery) is found in Lisbon, where he indulges in his favorite activities: drinking and playing the saxophone in seedy jazz clubs. British intelligence
agents Ned (James Fox) and Walter (played with expected flamboyance by director Ken Russell) want Blair to become involved in a plan to establish the identity of the author and, thereby, the credibility of the manuscript, but Blair is unwilling to cooperate. That is, until he sees a photograph of
the beautiful Katya.
THE RUSSIA HOUSE is an occasionally profound study in miscommunication and misinterpretation, contrasting a jaded West, made complacent by its long history of freedom, with the East, passionate and sincere as it tests the bounds of that same freedom it is only beginning to taste. The plot turns
and diversions are superbly handled by the excellent cast. Connery is in top form as the apparent cynic who at his heart is a true romantic, while Pfeiffer is thoroughly credible as the idealistic Katya. Brandauer makes good use of his limited screen time, Fox is excellent as the intelligence
professional who is wise enough to recognize the foibles of the game, and Scheider is convincing as a CIA man who is as much a politician as he is an expert on international intrigue.
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: A finely crafted and beautifully acted adaptation of John Le Carre's glasnost-era spy thriller that never quite gets as gripping as it should. THE RUSSIA HOUSE was the first entirely US-produced film to be substantially filmed on location in the Soviet Uni… (more)