Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Hoffman delivers one of his greatest performances.

Directed by Anton Corbijn
Produced by Stephen Cornwell, Gail Egan, Malte Grunert, Andrea Calderwood and Simon Cornwell
Written by Andrew Bovell (novel by John le Carré)
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Homayoun Ershadi, Nina Hoss and Daniel Brühl

****

Corbijn's new spy thriller adapts John le Carré's novel, which focuses on the war on terror in Hamburg, Germany. When an illegal Chechen Muslim immigrant (Dobrygin) seeks to claim the inheritance from his deceased Russian father, it catches the attention of German and U.S. authorities. Günther Bachmann (Hoffman), head of a German spy organization, wants to find out what the man is up to, and he recruits a young lawyer (McAdams) and a wealthy banker (Dafoe) to help him keep an eye on the man's actions. Meanwhile, Bachmann must also deal with a U.S. security team, whose spokesperson (Wright) could make this delicate situation even more difficult to handle.

While the cast and Corbijn are worthy of praise, Philip Seymour Hoffman is main reason to see this film. Hoffman is in top form, giving a simmering performance of restrained character study. Not only is it a flawless piece of work by the late Oscar-winner, but it's also the best performance I've seen so far this year. That is the highest praise I can give, yet the film does not fall short of its own brilliance. The narrative unfolds at such a deliberate pace that I never once guessed where it was going or where it would end. It kept me guessing, and the slow-burn atmosphere appropriately recalls that of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (also written by le Carré). The bleak lensing by Benoît Delhomme and the ominous score by Herbert Grönemeyer are also noteworthy, but it's Hoffman's fascinating performance that is the standout in one of the best films of the year.

Oscar Potential: Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay

10 comments:

  1. Did you mean Best Supporting Actor? Is Hoffman really the lead?

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    1. Hoffman is the true lead of the film, and I'd place everyone else in supporting. Though, placing him in Supporting isn't that much of a stretch, especially given the ensemble cast.

      By the way, Hoffman might be my Gandolfini this year. I'm not sure I could give Best Actor to anyone else. :)

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    2. What is Hoffman is your Gandilfini in Lead...and Gandolfini is your Hoffman in Supporting (for The Drop)!!!

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    3. That would be awesome! I'm going to watch The Mexican soon, and there's a chance Gandolfini could snag a Supporting win for it. That category in 2001 feels so weak to me right now.

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    4. I give the 01 win to Broadbent, but Gandolfini is my runner-up, and a few years ago I actually went through a period where I wanted to make him my winner. It's a tough call for me, since I love Broadbents...rather broad turn, but Gandolini packs a greater punch in the end.

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    5. Broadbent is actually my #5 (behind Kingsley, Law, Buscemi and Cox) at the moment, so Gandolfini would likely knock him out. Can't wait to check out his performance!

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  2. You had me on "Hoffman delivers one of his greatest performances." :-) I will add this to my list.

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    1. Hoffman is amazing! Hope you like it!

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  3. Oh I so want to see this! But given how I missed a lot of the details when I saw 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' on the big screen, I will catch this when it's out on Bluray. I LOVE a good spy story and for sure Hoffman delivered. So sad we won't see him anymore in new material :(

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    1. Yeah, it's so sad. He's SO GOOD here. I'd love for him to get a surprise Oscar nod like Gary Oldman did for Tinker Tailor.

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