Who's the mole? 'Tinker Tailor' complex, atmospheric

Yes, we imagine, international espionage is probably pretty much like this. No thrilling car chases and no big action sections, but rather a series of weary men, smoking and drinking tea or whisky, in a series of conversations that circle an enigma. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is about the search for a high-level Soviet spy within MI6, the British intelligence service. This mole is not to be found in an exotic location, but seems more than likely to be one of the men in the room.

The movie is based on John le Carre's 1974 novel, which redefined modern spy fiction and inspired an ambitious 1979 BBC adaptation. There was reason to believe le Carre knew his subject. In the real world, where his real name is David Cornwell, he was one of the British spies who were betrayed by Kim Philby, the notorious MI6 operative who was a double agent for the Soviets. In the fictional version, MI6 is headed by Control (John Hurt), who studies a series of intelligence leaks and becomes convinced there's a mole in the agency; the nature of the intelligence suggests it must come from high up, and Control narrows his list of suspects to five men close to him. Full review.

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