Spielberg’s Bridge to the Cold War

Now that the movie is completed, Fukunaga’s struggle is far from over. Several theater chains, like Regal and AMC, are boycotting the film since it will simultaneously be available on Net- flix. Still, Fukunaga is emphatic that audiences should try to see it on the big screen. “The impact and power of this film comes from experiencing it all the way through,” he says. “At home, you get a text—you slip out of the experience.” Then there’s the issue of convincing people to stay seated through the car­nage. One of the film’s more gruesome scenes shows Agu killing his first victim by swinging a machete into the top of the man’s skull.

“I know inevitably there will be people who can’t make it through the film,” Fukunaga says. “But I also couldn’t diminish it so much that it didn’t feel authentic.” He hopes that infusing the first 20 minutes with humor and introducing the audi­ence to Agu’s family will cre­ate a bond that carries them through. “I’ll read a terrible headline, and then move on with my life,” he says. “But you can’t erase the emotional memory you have after expe­riencing this movie. It will al­ways stay inside you.”

Early reviews from the Toronto and Venice film fes­tivals laud Fukunaga’s strik­ing cinematography and suggest Elba could finally get an Oscar nod after being overlooked for his lead role in 2013’s Man­dela: Long Walk to Free­dom. The plot remains a punch to the gut. But crafting a lighthearted romp isn’t on Fukunaga’s ambitious agenda. “I’d rather be a documenter of our time,” he says, “than pretend none of this is happening.”  □

MOVIES

Spielberg’s Bridge to the Cold War

LIKE A GRAY FLANNEL SUIT in a hall of mirrors, Steven Spielberg’s taut, assured thriller Bridge of Spies takes a grownup approach to an en­thralling, true-life espionage tale. James Donovan isn’t a spy; he’s a decent everyman. In other words, Tom Hanks, in a deceptively wry turn. A stolid Brooklyn insurance lawyer, Donovan is chosen in 1957 by the U.S. govern­ment to defend captured Soviet mole Rudolf Abel (a soulful Mark Rylance). Abel is imprisoned but becomes useful years later when Air Force U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers is shot down over the Soviet Union while taking in­telligence photographs. Don­ovan heads to East Germany to negotiate the exchange of Abel for Powers, winding up at the Glienicke Bridge, where secret East-West pass- offs occurred.

This covertly brawny film, with a script by Matt Char- man and Joel and Ethan Coen, has plot points that click like pegs under Spielberg’s tight direction. In his fourth pair­ing with Hanks, Spielberg again examines the furtive face of justice and issues an­other masterful ruling.

—JOE NEUMAIER

 

Hanks plays James Donovan, negotiator of a spy exchange

 

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