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Customer Review

on 11 August 2004
After the well-paced tension of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, this comes as a huge disappointment.
Sir Alec is is effortless as George Smiley (perhaps, as is revealed in the interviews with writer and director, because the novel was re-drafted after le Carre saw rushes of T,T,S,S, to make the Smiley of Smileys People match the character as Guinness had interpreted and transformed him in the first serial).
While Guinness's performance is outstanding, some of those around him are terrible. Abysmal over-the-top performances by Barry Foster (as Saul Enderby) and Bill Patterson grate. In Tinker, Tailor, Michael Jayston played Peter Gwillem - calm, calculating menace with dry wit - his replacement is a wet public schoolboy in comparison. But most bizarre of all is the transformation of Toby Esterhase (played by Bernard Hepton in both serials) from calculating upper class Brit to hyperactive, sexually ambiguous Austro-Hungarian refugee with a peculiar accent. Michael Lonsdale's Grigoriev is far too weak and gives in to questioning without the even the threat of thumbscrews, electric shocks or toenails being pulled out, but this is a fault of the script rather than his performance which is one of the better ones. As in Tinker, Tailor, there is always the prospect that Beryl Reid will upstage Sir Alec and the tension between them brings out an exceptional performances from both of them in the scene where they are together.
The story starts strongly - particularly in the first two episodes - then starts to slip. There are too many shots of George driving about like an OAP on a Sunday jaunt in the country. His visit to West Germany in the late 80s is particularly fascinating, though, with a glimpse of the counter-culture that spawned the Bader-Meinhof and Rote Armee Fraktion while we also see the rest of the Westies working hard and enjoying the Wirtschaftswunder that the UK could only envy.
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Product Details

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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