Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bridge of Spies (Review)

Steven Spielberg is a dependably good film director. Obviously. The worst thing I can say about his filmography is that a large portion of it feels light on ambitious creativity. I would say that his films tell stories in a less stylistic, less subjective fashion than most modern storytellers (though of course, a film can never truly be objective). Perhaps I only feel this because Spielberg's style has become the definite Hollywood archetype in my mind; the most movie-like of all American movies. The vanilla formula of film.

This is not to say that Spielberg's films, and Bridge of Spies, lack style. On the contrary, Spielberg's latest feature is gorgeous. The cinematography (by Janusz Kaminski) ranges from great to excellent. The way some scenes use light and position the characters in frame really brings the drama alive.
And there's plenty of drama to bring alive. Bridge of Spies tells a sprawling cold war story, but most importantly keeps it personal, grounded and unpredictable. The main characters really get a chance to live and change over the course of the film. It's even surprisingly funny, for a film such as it is. Though they're given writing credits on the film, it's difficult to say specifically what areas of the screenplay can be attributed to the Coen brothers.

Tom Hanks is easy to get behind as the morally steadfast lead, but Mark Rylance is the standout cast member. His Russian spy is a delicately portrayed and memorable character upon whose shoulders the film's plot safely rests. Oh and Jesse Plemons is there of course, because he's in like every movie now.
I hadn't heard anyone rave about this film before seeing it, so I went in tentatively. But I had no need to worry. Bridge of Spies is a very well put together cold war thriller. It's a Spielberg film through and through, and therefore won't be blowing any minds, but it will tell you a powerful story in a beautiful way, and that's good cinema.