With Steven Spielberg directing, Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance starring, a script by the Coen brothers, and based on an amazing true story, it is no wonder Bridge of Spies was one of the box office hits of 2015. It gathered great reviews and numerous awards including best supporting actor Oscar for Rylance - fresh from his highly acclaimed portrayal of Thomas Cromwell in the BBC’s Wolf Hall.

Set in 1957 at the height of the cold war, Bridge of Spies depicts Hanks as James Donovan - a decent and thoughtful lawyer asked to defend Rylance’s enigmatic Soviet spy, and the two actors form a great on screen presence and chemistry. The second half of the film weaves in the trial in the USSR of American air force pilot Gary Powers - who was shot down over Soviet airspace while on a spying mission in his U2. Again, Donovan is asked to sort out what seems an intractable and complex diplomatic situation.

As ever with Spielberg we get superb craftsmanship and careful pacing, as well as a real sense of time and place. Things were different in the 1950s, and it was in a sense a more straightforward world, but Spielberg and Hanks explore the grey areas surrounding all the propaganda and the rhetoric, ultimately focusing in on Donovan’s personal determination and moral courage to do the right thing.

The Guardian’s Paul Bradshaw gave Bridge of Spies a five star review, saying it “has a brassy and justified confidence in its own narrative flair.”

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