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Page Eight (Blu-ray Review)

1 Dec, 2011 By: John Latchem

$24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Davis, Felicity Jones, Alice Krige.

As a PBS presentation of a BBC production, Page Eight is a spy caper that is expectedly long on talk and short on action. But its pedigree is indisputable, populated by an all-star cast of British performers, written and directed by playwright David Hare (Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Reader and The Hours), and produced by the team behind the “Harry Potter” films.

The acting is spot-on, led by a magnetically droll Bill Nighy as Johnny, an aging intelligence analyst for MI5, Britain’s homeland security service.

Johnny’s longtime friend and colleague, Benedict (Michael Gambon), hands him a lengthy report about America’s alleged torture practices that seems to indicate the prime minister (Ralph Fiennes) might be aware of the program, but hasn’t shared any of the intelligence learned from it with his own people. The crux of the story revolves around Johnny’s attempts to determine the extent of such a deception, while trying to help a beautiful neighbor (Rachel Weisz), whose brother’s death may have been covered up by the Israeli army.

The story turns on the type of ideological politics that would seem to have more significance in a writer’s head than in any real-life application.

The dialogue is exquisitely delivered. Every line sounds like agents speaking code to each other, even in ostensibly normal settings. This ties into one of the film’s primary motifs about how much the hardships of a life in the secret service will often carry over into personal lives. Certain sacrifices must often be made to do what is believed to be the right thing, even if families, or countries, are left to suffer as a result.

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