Steven Spielberg tells a good story. And Tom Hanks, as well as being a brilliant actor, is a leading contender for Nicest Man In Showbiz, at least from what we see on interviews and chatshows. And the Coen Brothers were responsible for the script. So that’s a bunch of reasons for being excited about Bridge of Spies.
And on top of that Mark Rylance is in it and, for me, steals the show.
I’ll write another time about seeing Mark Rylance on stage, and what an utter genius he is. For now, in Bridge of Spies, he plays the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel who is arrested in the USA but then becomes a bargaining chip in exchange for U2 pilot Gary Powers.
He’s a fascinating presence on screen – very still and calm, with Abel being accepting of the situation he’s in and almost curious about the process. Rylance plays Abel so wonderfully – I don’t usually post clips of films, but I couldn’t resist this:
See how gently he delivers the lines (Abel is a man whose life if on the line), and the little smile when Hanks turns to him – on screen Rylance is master of making small gestures speak volumes. Listen to the inflection on the line “Would it help?” and think how many ways you could say those three words and how none of them would be as perfect as the way Rylance delivers them.
And in the past couple few days Mark Rylance has picked up Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Where do I cast my vote?
Tom Hanks plays the role of Abel’s lawyer James B Donovan effortlessly – it’s easy to forget what a great movie actor he is – and that may actually be to the film’s detriment: we take Tom Hanks for granted in a role like this.
Overall, the film’s interesting but felt a bit overlong and a bit less “special” than I’d been anticipating. But it’s a good story, with a strong message about doing what’s right (both Abel and Donovan have a commitment to their own code), the importance of having rules that make society work, and how you can’t pick and choose when those rules get applied.