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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome change from overwrought missions impossible
When the rusty Iron Curtain disintegrated during Gorbachev's glasnost, Hollywood filmmakers finally got access to the image-rich expanse of Mother Russia for location shoots. Whereas before, when scenes of "Moscow" or "Leningrad" were actually filmed in, say, Helsinki, now American theatergoers can gaze upon the real thing. On viewing THE RUSSIA HOUSE for the first time,...
Published on 4 Mar 2003 by Joseph Haschka

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are You A Spy?
The Russia House is a good film for most of its running time. It has an excellent cast and is very well filmed but I feel its let down by a weak ending, especially the over sentimental final scene. Also I don't think the film was entertaining enough at two hours length. I think it should have been trimmed by twenty minutes or so. The movie isn't as good as other Le Carre...
Published on 23 Feb 2012 by j.r


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome change from overwrought missions impossible, 4 Mar 2003
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
When the rusty Iron Curtain disintegrated during Gorbachev's glasnost, Hollywood filmmakers finally got access to the image-rich expanse of Mother Russia for location shoots. Whereas before, when scenes of "Moscow" or "Leningrad" were actually filmed in, say, Helsinki, now American theatergoers can gaze upon the real thing. On viewing THE RUSSIA HOUSE for the first time, I was thrilled to see the onion domes and other architectural glories of Moscow and Suzdal, which I had seen in person several years before.

Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer are Barley and Katya in the screen adaptation of John le Carré's novel of the same title. Barney is the world-weary and alcoholic London publisher to whom a book manuscript is smuggled by the Russian Katya, a woman Barley claims most emphatically not to know. Since the document is actually a survey of the status of Soviet defense weaponry, the British Secret Service, which intercepted the manuscript, views Barley's disclaimer as tepid at best. After intense questioning, and a call upon his loyalty to Queen and Empire, Barley is persuaded to return to Moscow to meet Katya, and determine her source of information. The latter turns out to be Dante, a well-respected physicist embedded in the Soviet defense establishment, who is known to British intelligence and is also Katya's boyfriend. Finally realizing the identity and potential value of the contact, MI6 approaches the CIA with a proposal for a continuing joint operation using Barley as the field agent. The moneyed Americans, of course, insist on playing the dominant mission controller, relegating the Brits to the role of interested observer.

A criticism of this film was that it's too boring. Not so, if one accepts and understands that le Carré's plots are not action oriented by design. Rather, they revolve around character evolution and relatively subtle confrontations that are more intellectual and psychological than physical. Le Carré's books are, admittedly, an acquired taste, and not for the shallow-minded. The filmed version of THE RUSSIA HOUSE is true to its literary roots. There are here no feats of 007-like derring-do confounding the evildoers on missions impossible. The storyline unfolds at a comparatively sedate, realistic pace.

The casting was perfect. Veterans Connery and Pfeiffer are magnificent together. The latter's portrayal of a Slavic damsel-in-distress is especially convincing. James Fox as the urbane, gentlemanly MI6 controller serves as the perfect foil to the abrasive, take-no-prisoners (stereotypically Yank) attitude of his CIA counterpart, played by Roy Scheider. Klaus Brandauer as Dante is appropriately enigmatic. The location cinematography is visually sumptuous.

After awhile, one gets weary of the steady diet of action spy thrillers that rampage across the silver screen. As a change of gait, THE RUSSIA HOUSE is supremely satisfying, especially the bittersweet ending. I loved it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Le Carre adaptations, 15 Dec 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
The Russia House is one of Connery's last really good performances before he realized that they'd still pay him the big bucks even if he was just sleepwalking through a part and refusing to do more than one take. It's also one of the best screen adaptations of a John Le Carre novel, a surprisingly ambitious screenplay by Tom Stoppard that folds chronology, character and plot points in on themselves like origami in the opening and closing scenes making for engaging and occasionally playful viewing. The excellent supporting cast, including an exceptionally good Michelle Pfeiffer, don't hurt either. Only the last minute studio-imposed happy ending grates, but not enough to do any real damage. Jerry Goldsmith provides a fine score, the love theme proving third time lucky after it was dropped from both Wall Street and Alien Nation.

MGM/UA's disc offers a good widescreen 2.35:1 transfer, but the only extra is the film's full trailer.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A film off the beaten track, 2 Sep 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
Russia house is an extremely interesting film that analyses the relationship among the common people of the USA and USSR. It shows in a very vivid way that there so few things that make us different from each other.
Sean Connery and Michel Pfeiffer act in a magnificent way; in this film they really show their great performing abilities in contrast to the "light" typical american films like James Bond and Scarface.
Moreover, the plot is very interesting, the scenery and photography amazing, and the whole atmosphere is framed by an exceptional soundtrack (also a must). Don't miss this film!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the russia house, 9 Feb 2011
By 
A. W. Wilson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
I haven't seen this for years. It doesn't seem to be on TV. Why? Perhaps it is. Anyway this DVD is superb. Good quality widescreen and terrific perfs from Connery and particularly Pfeiffer who does wonders with her accent and would make any red blooded male (or female) fall instantly in love with her. Good script/direction and photography plus a great gallery of support actors (Martin Clunes as a secret service man?) make this one of the cinemas unsung good movies and deserves to be seen. Great price on Amazon too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Still the Cold War Here, Not Quite Yet Glasnost, 17 April 2010
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
The movie "Russia House," starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer, is based on the spy novel of the same name, by that master spy-meister, the British John LeCarre. It's a very acute look at Russia, just as their "Glasnost," policy of openness begins to end --but not quite-- the cold war. The talented British playwright Tom Stoppard adapted the script, largely faithful to the novel. The respected director Fred Schepisi helmed. Like most of the movies adapted from LeCarre's oeuvre, it reflects his extraordinary abilities with plotting and dialogue. Though, mind you, the dialogue is quite mannered, as also reflects LeCarre's works, not to mention Stoppard's.

The plot, set in London, Russia, and some other glamorous continental cities, concerns an informant, unknown to the British Secret Service, MI6, who has suddenly popped up, in this period of glasnost, with very valuable, top secret data as to the Russian military's preparedness. The Secret Service doesn't quite know what to make of it, so they press Scott Barley Blair (Sean Connery,James Bond Ultimate Sean Connery - Dr.No/From Russia With Love/Goldfinger/Thunderball/You Only Live Twice/Diamonds Are Forever [DVD]); an alcoholic publisher specializing in Russian subjects, into service. He's to go to Russia (several times, it turns out) to locate this most secret of spies. Along the way, he meets and falls in love with Michelle Pfeiffer,(Hairspray (2007) [DVD]), never better as an actress, nor more beautiful, as a single mother who works in publishing.

The movie shows us quite a lot of snow, and life as it was lived in Russia at the time. The everyday struggles for the underprivileged, as Pfeiffer's character, despite her glamorous job,is. Three generations living cramped in a tiny apartment, the queuing for necessities, the difficulty of obtaining new clothes, and, as for shoes, forget it. The privileges of the privileged: the nice cars, the dachas (the greatly-desired country homes), the designer duds. It further deals with the usual suspicions between the British and American secret services. Finally, it gives us an honest, unsensationalized, non-mawkish view of middle-aged love, though it is burdened with a Hollywood happy ending that you won't find in the book.

In this movie, Sir Sean Connery shows us a side of him we don't often see: tenderness. His sax-playing among Russian friends (voiced by Branford Marsalis), is quite moving. Also on view is that sly Scottish sense of humor Connery spices his movies, and his conversations with: I once interviewed the man, in his trailer on New York's Fifth Avenue, while he was making some film or another: and his humor was so sly, my editor complained that it was a boring article. Oh well, I guess you had to be there.

As to the rest of the cast, Michelle Pfeiffer does very well, as mentioned above. Klaus Maria Brandauer (The Constant Gardener/Out Of Africa [DVD]), also stands out as "Dante," the most unusual secret Russian informant. There was also some money spent on the supporting cast: Americans J.T. Walsh, Roy Scheider, John Mahoney. Brits, Ian McNeice, James Fox, Michael Kitchen, David Threlfall.

"Russia House" was written, and filmed, at the optimum time for its plot, and thereby acquires a resonance it might otherwise not have had. It was a lucky break for author, filmmakers, and us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cold War thriller with a great cast and soundtrack, 6 April 2010
By 
LXIX (scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
The Russia House is an excellent cinematic adaptation of a John le Carré novel and captures the spy game just as the Cold War of 1946-1991 was nearing its end during the glasnost period.

Independent London publisher, `Barney' Blair, is a hard drinking, saxophone playing, eccentric womaniser who suddenly finds himself taking centre stage in a high stakes international espionage battle when a top Soviet nuclear scientist wishes to pass nuclear capability secrets onto him. The West's security services swiftly become involved and `Barney' (played by Sean Connery) becomes an unlikely and unwilling spy. Michelle Pfieffer plays the leading Russian lady (Katya Orlova) with gravitas and aplomb.

The Russia House is particularly notable for its intricate plot, wonderful cinematography (of Moscow and Leningrad) and, of course, the dynamic casting of Connery and Pfeiffer. I first saw this in an afternoon cinema session when it came out on the big screen in 1991, so it was nice to have the DVD version as well. As well as the plot-driven mix of bohemian literary types, angst-ridden scientists and hawks within the London and Washington administrations, this movie also has a wonderful accompanying jazz soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith.

If you enjoy spy thrillers, quality acting or even hark back to the old (ironically) romantic notion of knowing where everyone stood at the time of the Iron Curtain, then this DVD is for you.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are You A Spy?, 23 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
The Russia House is a good film for most of its running time. It has an excellent cast and is very well filmed but I feel its let down by a weak ending, especially the over sentimental final scene. Also I don't think the film was entertaining enough at two hours length. I think it should have been trimmed by twenty minutes or so. The movie isn't as good as other Le Carre adaptions such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold or The Tailor of Panama, although I liked it more than The Constant Gardener. I give it 3.5 out of 5.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Russian House. Very realistic film of the USSR, 17 Aug 2014
By 
J. E. Hudson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
Got this DVD after reading the book. I think the film gives a first rate impression of a citizen's drab everyday life in Russia in the 60's/70's that concurs exactly with my own visits to Poland and Czechoslovakia. Can't comment much on the spycraft issues and Russian missile technology which is at the centre of the story, not being in the business, The only "secret" learned was that none of their stuiff really worked except to scare the US just enough to keep its defence industry in business. As the Russians later got to the moon, they couldn't really be that bad at making rockets.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 July 2014
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This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
Good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Movie, 19 April 2014
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This review is from: The Russia House [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
Two of the finest actors come together to make a great film about the life of people during the cold war.
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The Russia House [DVD] [1991]
The Russia House [DVD] [1991] by Fred Schepisi (DVD - 2002)
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