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William Boyd's film adaptation of his terrific spy novel finally comes to DVD.....
on 1 May 2014
RESTLESS, the television adaptation of William Boyd's novel of the same name, was shown on UK BBC One and US Sundance Channel television in two parts in December 2012. The teleplay was nominated for two Primetime Emmy awards the following spring. Part one, the story of Eva's early life as a spy in the days leading to World War II, is beautifully filmed on spectacular locations in Europe. The cars used in the production are European vintage in beautiful condition. The costumes are interesting and appear authentic. The cast is superlative:
Sally Gilmartin...Charlotte Rampling ("Swimming Pool")
Eva Delectorskaya...Hayley Atwell ("Any Human Heart")
Ruth Gilmartin....Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey")
Lucas Romer....Rufus Sewell ("Zen")(Part 1)....Michael Gambon ("Dancing at Lughnasa")(Part 2)
The story begins in 1976 in a remote part of England when Ruth (a long red-haired hippie working on her doctorate) and her son visit her mother Sally Gilmartin. Ruth finds her mother in great fear thinking someone is in the woods behind the house trying to kill her. Sally has purchased a rifle, binoculars, and a telescope. She tells her daughter she was a Russian girl named Eva that was a spy for the British in a clandestine group that offered refuge for German informants and recruited Roosevelt's help for British causes in WW II. Sally implores Ruth to find and visit Lucas Romer, the only one she trusts in the group, to stop the present-day killers; she gives her daughter her journal of her days as a spy.
Eva's journal begins in 1939 German-occupied France when she is recruited by spymaster Lucas Romer after her brother is killed by Nazis. She is trained at a safe house in a remote part of England. The film emphasizes that Eva receives no weapons training, so it is clearer that she is training to be a seductress. (At least, clearer to me in the teleplay than in the novel.)
The restaurant scene, one of Eva's first capers, takes place in Amsterdam when she and Romer, but primarily Eva, are to rescue a Dutch informant. The man gives Eva the wrong "double password" and Eva escapes through a bathroom window and witnesses the informant's death by several Nazi diners. The scene is vivid and well done...and shows Romer's early dominance over Eva's activities. (He's across the street in a hotel with a pair of binoculars!)
Romer, played by a handsome Rufus Sewell with a thin moustache, is not nicer than in the book...still an arrogant, rude man! He stays in the shadows at Eva's brother's funeral and during her spy training. The several times they meet, he is discourteous and does not treat her as a lady (although one of her fake passports is for a Baroness). Both Eva and Romer smoke continuously. Other men light her cigarettes...just not Romer. There is a strange scene where one of the group, an older man, calls Eva to witness a murder posed as a suicide at a crime scene before the police are summoned. Eva recognizes the victim as one of the directors of the group.
One can still wonder in the film, as in the book, why Eva and Romer became lovers. It happens suddenly with a kiss and then a seduction in a hotel room. If I recall, it's right after the restaurant caper. (As someone mentioned in my book club discussion...love happens fast in tense times.) Although RESTLESS is an adult drama, there is no profanity nor any bodily function or display in bad taste. Romer's sexual practice (coitus interruptus) is hinted at in the hotel room scene...but you would miss it if you have not read the novel.
The first part ends when Eva is assigned to go to Washington, D. C. to persuade America to come to Britain's aid in its war with Germany. Her specific assignment is to seduce the aide of Roosevelt's personal assistant Harry Hopkins. Previews of the conclusion show her as a blowsy blonde.....