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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Winter 2018

Red Joan (2018) movie review

Conscience or Conspiracy?

The fictional story of Joan Stanley, who was exposed as the K.G.B.'s longest-serving British spy, inspired by the real life case of civil servant Melita Norwood (1912-2005). Joan is recruited while studying physics in Cambridge.

At first resistant, she was determined to stop another Hiroshima/Nagasaki by providing the Russians with atomic bomb information and creating a climate of mutually assured destruction.

"I was a shadow in a man's world. Invisible...but in the end, powerful."

Red Joan, Movie Poster, Festivale film review; 567x840

Movie poster, Red Joan
How far would you go to protect everything you love?

Told in flashback format, the elderly Joan (Judi Dench) is implicated in providing information to the Russians. When she began England was coming out of the second world war (WWII) in which Russia had been an ally. RED JOAN has two heroines -- Joan as an 80-something woman, aged, and adamant that she had never betrayed her country. Ultimately Joan is a humanist more than a nationalist.

I was fighting for the living, I loved my country!

The second Joan (Sophie Cookson) is a young student, innocent and idealistic, a physicist hired as a typist, vulnerable to seduction.

This elegant film is a pleasure to watch, well-crafted, interesting and directed without judgement.

Highly recommended.

2010-10-27 Available on Prime Video (Amazon), DVDs and BluRay


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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 18 Jun 2019 (Australia)
For credits and official site details, see below
Search Festivale for more work by the film-makers below.

Just the facts:

Title: Red Joan (2018)
Written by: Written by Lindsay Shapero from Jennie Rooney's novel
Directed by: Trevor Nunn
Running time: 1h 41min
Rating: MA

The Players: Judi Dench, Nina Sosanya, Sophie Cookson

Official website:
IMDb entry

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