Rated 4.0

For this fact-based (but fictionalized) early-'80s espionage thriller, director Christian Carion adapts Serguei Kostine’s book with co-writer Eric Raynaud. It concerns the unlikely partnership between two reluctant smugglers of Soviet intelligence: a disaffected KGB colonel (Emir Kusturica) and a French engineer (Guillaume Canet) working in Moscow. More specifically, it concerns the ruination that such a partnership brings to the men’s domestic lives. It’s worth noting that Carion’s two leads are filmmakers themselves, if only to say that the pleasure to be had here is decidedly, if unconventionally, movie-ish. It’s a function not of pumped adrenaline but instead of elegant gestures, accumulated mood and excellently subtle performances, sort of like how they made spy thrillers when the Cold War actually was happening. Willem Dafoe turns up as a CIA suit, and Fred Ward makes an unnervingly plausible Ronald Reagan.