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Red Joan (12A)
3rd May 2019 - 9th May 2019
Joan Stanley’s quiet retirement is thrown into chaos when her deceptive past catches up with her and she’s arrested by MI5. After working on the UK’s nuclear weapons while spying for the KGB more than half a century ago, she looks back at her life and reflects on the choices she’s made and the consequences she’s had to accept. This political drama, based on a true story, stars Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, and Stephen Campbell Moore and is directed by Olivier Award-winner Trevor Nunn.
Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) is enjoying a quiet retirement until she’s arrested by MI5 for multiple breaches of the Official Secrets Act. As it turns out, beneath Joan’s calm exterior there’s a dark and shady past. A former spy for the KGB, she has gone undetected for more than half a century – until now.
At Cambridge University, in the 1930s, the young Joan (Sophie Cookson) is a seemingly unassuming physics student. But her whole life changes when she falls in love with suave Russian saboteur Leo (Tom Hughes) and gets pulled into the politics of the communist Soviet Union.
Fast forward to the post-war period, where Joan is working at a secret nuclear research facility, and she’s forced to decide whether to slip the secrets of the nuclear weapons that she’s been working on over to Russia.
As UK intelligence struggles to work out how the USSR is keeping up with its development of the atomic bomb, Joan quietly continues her double life in the hope that she can preserve peace for the UK and her loved ones.
Judi Dench (Murder on the Orient Express) stars in this English drama about one woman’s sacrifice, based on the true story of the spy Melita Norwood. Featuring Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Golden Circle), Tom Hughes (Victoria) and Stephen Campbell Moore (Goodbye Christopher Robin), Red Joan is a story about duty, love and the consequences of the actions that might have saved the world.
Running time: 1hr 41mins
This movie plot has precious little to do with Melita Norwood on whom it is supposed to be based. Red Joan was a superb physicist, Melita was not a physicist at all. Red Joan went to Cambridge University, Melita did not. Red Joan was a reluctant spy with a noble motivation to stop future wars, Melita was simply a devoted Communist. The shocking true aspect of this tale is that the British Intelligent services did not vet Melita sufficiently well to find her political sympathies, leaving her in a magnificent position to give British nuclear secrets to the Soviets for forty years. Yes, 40. Is that incompetent, or what? That said, so long as you know the above, this is an enjoyable movie.