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Despite the Falling Snow


Stars: Rebecca Ferguson, Sam Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Antje Traue, Charles Dance, Anthony Head, Thure Lindhardt, Ben Batt, Amy Nuttall, Ana Sofrenovic, Anne Kidd, Imogen Daines

Director: Shamim Sarif

Many writers can (and do) happily take refuge from bad movies based on their novel by rightly claiming Hollywood screenwriters did to their books what (homage to Lubitsch, naturally), the Germans did to Poland.

Here, however, novelist Shamim Sarif adapted and directed her own 2004 novel for the screen and so, if the auteur theory is set in concrete, is responsible for a sober, well intended Cold War romantic thriller that ultimately comes across as a TV movie that has strayed into the cinema instead of settling comfortably into its natural small screen habitat.

Here Rebecca Ferguson, who had little do in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation apart from supplying eye candy for the Tom Cruise thriller, does well enough in a dual role.

In 1959, we meet her in Moscow as secret agent Katya, who succeeds in her mission to seduce and marry young Kremlin bureaucrat Sam Reid.

But, when Reid defects to the West, reneging on his avowal “There’s no deal without my wife”, Katya is left alone in the Soviet Union.

Then in 1992 New York Katya’s artist niece (also played by Ferguson) crosses Reid, now played by Charles Dance (giving his now familiar performance) and heads for Moscow to try and find out what happened to her aunt…

What follows is certainly snowy but regrettably the Serbian/Belgrade locations are often more interesting that what is happening in front of them in a sincere enough spy story which makes rather too little of its pre and post-glasnost Russian settings in favour of the plodding plot.

Even a less than convincing lesbian romance between artist Katya and a Moscow political journalist played by Antje Traue adds little to the overall impact of a well-intended but sometimes muddled and ultimately unmemorable mass market woman’s magazine flavoured movie.

Alan Frank

UK/Canada 2016. UK Distributor: Altitude Film Distribution. Colour.
93 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Apr 2016