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Red Joan – Judy Dench is a Russian spy in this pleasant drama

Frightening British drama Red Joan (directed by Trevor Nunn) arrives claiming to be based on the life of Melita Norvood, the secretaries of the suburb of Bekleiheath, who spent 40 years transmitting nuclear secrets to the KGB. Her story could make a striking movie – but it's not this one, in which Stalinist Norwood broke into a completely cozy Joan Stanley (Judy Dench, of course). In the midst of the twisting network curtains, we meet Joan, who turns from her half-form to be charged with 27 violations of the Law on Official Secrets. Her family is confused. But once in detention, the pieces fall into place with the help of flashbacks with which we go amo-like, as if the script was written with a ping-pong stick.

Beginning with undergraduate life in Cambridge at the very end of World War II, young Sophie Cookson, a wide-eyed physicist, attracted to the Bolshevik company of emigrants and serious anti-Nazism. "It was a thing," she explains now. The result is the year of smuggled manila, its motive, not love for Russia's mother, but the impeccable humanistic desire for the balance of global nuclear energy, and – cautious with the cocoa – a secret passion for a handsome communist.

★★ ☆☆☆

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