Saturday 20 April 2024

Movie Review: Eye Of The Needle (1981)

Genre: World War Two Espionage Romantic Drama  
Director: Richard Marquand  
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Kate Nelligan, Christopher Cazenove, Ian Bannen  
Running Time: 112 minutes  

Synopsis: Britain-based German spy Henry "the Needle" Faber (Donald Sutherland) uncovers critical information about the upcoming Normandy landings. Pursued by Scotland Yard's Inspector Godliman (Ian Bannen), Henry escapes and eventually shipwrecks onto the secluded Storm Island. While attempting to arrange a U-boat extraction, he starts an affair with the lonely Lucy Rose (Kate Nelligan). She is the mother of a young son and stuck in a frigid marriage with the bitter David (Christopher Cazenove), who lost his legs in an accident on their wedding day.

What Works Well: The adaptation Ken Follett's novel is a well-paced mix of wartime spy action, nationwide manhunt, and passionate romance. The drama is propelled by a secret that can alter the war's outcome, and the two central performances carry the weight of responsibility: Donald Sutherland is cold blooded and supremely confident, while Kate Nelligan smolders with waiting-to-be-awakened fervor. Director Richard Marquand makes excellent use of rugged Scottish locations and builds tension towards a crackling love-versus-duty climax.

What Does Not Work As Well: Frequent knifings and plenty of plot holes compete in a race for most perforations. The police chase elements suffer from lack of character definitions and never gain meaningful traction.

Conclusion: Threads the multi-genre needle.

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