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Michael Apted’s Enigma
Review by Alex Grant

Enigma is the high point of Michael Apted’s career

Enigma (R; 117 min.), directed by Michael Apted, written by Tom Stoppard, based on the novel by Robert Harris, photographed by Seamus McGarney starring Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Saffron Burrows and Jeremy Northam

Tom Stoppard’s script for the evocative, expert espionage drama Enigma is notable for its perfect pitch, pace and passion.
Opening with a moving montage of the key visual elements of the story, set among the brainy boffins of the 1940’s Bletchley Park HQ. For wartime codebreakers, Enigma is a thoroughly engrossing as its forward narrative momentum never flags for a second. Veteran Director Michael Apted and his gifted team of established British craftsperson, confidently recreate a chilling and heartbreaking WW11 ambience. A deft fusion of eccentric characters who charm, cheat and challenge our assumptions about chivalrous conduct under extreme pressure.
Tom Jericho (Dougray Scott), barely recovered from a nervous collapse, returns morosely to Bltechely Park when new Nazi ‘Enigma Code’, used by the U-Boat fleet to co-ordinate attacks on Allied convoys, foils his colleagues. The boffins have four days to break the almost unassailable code.
Jericho has been devastated by the infidelity of his lover Clare Romilly (Saffron Burrows) a suspected latter-day ‘Mata-Hari’. A broken man, he is himself targeted by counter-espionage, his actions placed under the microscope.
An elaborate intrigue of conflicting personal and public witchhunts has been set in motion by the sudden disappearance of Clare Romilly. Is she a ruthless seductress and traitor or a self-sacrificing patriot?
Enigma, against all odds, makes vivid the interior lives of a clutch of inspired introverts whose accomplishments can be made only at the expense of hundreds of lives: to pinpoint the whereabouts of the U-Boat ‘Wolfpacks’ the codebreakers must wait and watch as the biggest convoy in the North Atlantic is about to be torpedoed to smithereens.
Enigma is the high point of Michael Apted’s career: a mesmerising tribute to previously unsung heroes and heroines whose calling was often their downfall.

Rent or buy the movie

© Alex Grant September 2002
Produced by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones – this has been a pet project of his from the moment the novel by Robert Harris was published.

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