Red Joan (12A)

Thriller (2018)
101mins UK

Starring: Kim Allen, Stephen Boxer, Alfie Allen, Dame Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Tom Hughes
Director: Trevor Nunn
Writer(s): Lindsay Shapero
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Joan Stanley is a softly spoken librarian, who is a beloved member of her local community. Out of the blue, police knock at her door and Joan's grown-up son Nick is dumbfounded when authorities accuse Joan of operating as an undercover operative for the Russians for more than 50 years. A media storm swirls around Joan and her loved ones as police attempt to extract a confession from the pensioner, who proclaims her innocence.

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LondonNet Film Review
Red Joan (12A)

Inspired by the true story of Melita Norwood, a septuagenarian dubbed the "granny spy" when she was publicly outed as a KGB source in 1999, director Trevor Nunn's tangled tale of wartime espionage rations substance over period style. Dame Judi Dench and Sophie Cookson share the title role, investing respective incarnations of a morally conflicted heroine with steely resolve and wide-eyed innocence as her act of treason - sharing scientific data with the USSR during the Second World War - reverberates across time...

Red Joan. Copyright: Lionsgate Films. Caption: Dame Judi Dench as Joan Stanley in Red Joan, directed by Trevor Nunn. Photo: Nick Wall. All Rights Reserved.The complexities of Joan's dilemma, conjured in the shadow of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, are diluted by scriptwriter Lindsay Shapero. Can you defuse tensions after decades of slaughter and suffering by weaponising all the major political forces with the same devastating technology? Red Joan nibbles politely on the meat of opposing arguments in an era of paranoia, when women were repeatedly underestimated by virtue of their gender. Dramatic tension dissipates as the film's chronologically fractured narrative fixates on an under-powered love triangle that operates as a broad metaphor for the ideological tug of war between East and West.

Softly spoken librarian Joan Stanley (Dench) diligently tends the bushes in her front garden and trades warm smiles with neighbours. She is just another ageing figure in terraced suburbia until two police detectives arrive unannounced and charge Joan with 27 counts of breaking the Official Secrets Act. Joan's middle-aged son Nick (Ben Miles), a respected barrister, is dumbfounded when authorities accuse his mother of treason dating back more than 60 years. As detectives attempt to extract a confession, Joan drifts into a fugue state of fractured reminiscence, flashing back to 1938 when she studied natural sciences at Cambridge. Naive, bookish Joan (now played by Cookson) is befriended by glamorous German Jewish student Sonya (Tereza Srbova), who introduces the shy fresher to her politically outspoken cousin, Leo (Tom Hughes). He is a committed communist, who delivers rallying cries against Hitler and refers affectionately to Joan as "my little comrade". Leo seduces the shrinking violet and implores Joan to share intelligence with the KGB when she begins top-secret work with Professor Max Davis (Stephen Campbell Moore) on Britain's atomic bomb programme during the Second World War. Joan is crippled with fear. "Nobody would suspect us. We're women," smiles Sonya conspiratorially.

Adapted from the novel by Jennie Rooney, Red Joan oscillates between two time frames, glimpsing events exclusively through the eponymous protagonist's eyes. Consequently, character development is restricted and key players vanish from this pedestrian drama when they slingshot out of Joan's orbit. Dench possesses an innate ability to snag our affections even when the script doesn't give her anything interesting to impart. I spy a missed opportunity.

- Kim Hu

Red Joan. Copyright: Lionsgate Films. Caption: Dame Judi Dench as Joan Stanley in Red Joan, directed by Trevor Nunn. Photo: Nick Wall. All Rights Reserved.

London Cinemas

From Friday 24th May
To Thursday 30th May

- Odeon Beckenham

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Rest of UK and Irish Cinemas

Listed in alphabetical order by city/place name followed by cinema name.

From Friday 17th May
To Thursday 23rd May

- Aberdeen, Cineworld Aberdeen - Union Square
- Aberdeen, Vue Aberdeen
- Addlestone, The Light Cinema, Addlestone
- Altrincham, Vue Altrincham (Apollo)
- Barrow-in-Furness, Vue Barrow (Apollo)
- Basingstoke, Vue Basingstoke Festival Place
- Bath, Little Theatre Cinema Picturehouse
- Bath, Odeon Bath
- Bedford, Vue Bedford
- Belfast, Movie House Cityside (Yorkgate)
- Belfast, Movie House Dublin Road
- Berwick-upon-Tweed, The Maltings Theatre And Cinema
- Beverley, Parkway Cinema
- Bicester, Vue Bicester
- Bideford, Kingsley School
- Birkenhead, Vue Birkenhead
- Birmingham, Vue Birmingham
- Blackburn, Vue Blackburn
- Bolton, Cineworld Bolton
- Bolton, Vue Bolton
- Bournemouth, Odeon Bournemouth BH2
- Bristol, Vue Bristol Cribbs Causeway
- Bristol, Vue Bristol Longwell Green
- Bromborough, Odeon Bromborough
- Bury, Vue Bury The Rock
- Camberley, Vue Camberley
- Cambridge, Arts Picturehouse
- Cambridge, Vue Cambridge
- Cardiff, Cineworld Cardiff
- Cardigan, Theatr Mwldan
- Carlisle, Vue Carlisle
- Carmarthen, Vue Carmarthen (Apollo)
- Castle Douglas, The Fullarton Theatre
- Chatham, Odeon Chatham
- Chichester, Cineworld Chichester
- Cleethorpes, Parkway Cinema
- Cramlington, Vue Cramlington
- Crawley, Cineworld Crawley
- Cromer, Regal Movieplex
- Cwmbran, Vue Cwmbran
- Darlington, Vue Darlington
- Derby, Showcase Derby Foresters Park
- Doncaster, Vue Doncaster
- Dublin, Movies @ Dundrum
- Dublin, Movies @ Swords
- Dublin, Vue Dublin
- Eastleigh, Vue Eastleigh
- Edinburgh, Odeon Edinburgh Wester Hailes
- Edinburgh, Vue Edinburgh Ocean Terminal
- Edinburgh, Vue Edinburgh Omni Centre
- Ellesmere Port, Vue Cheshire Oaks
- Epsom, Odeon Epsom
- Exeter, Exeter Picturehouse
- Exeter, Vue Exeter
- Falmouth, Phoenix Cinema
- Farnborough, Vue Farnborough
- Gateshead, Vue Gateshead
- Glasgow, Cineworld Glasgow - Renfrew Street
- Glasgow, Showcase Glasgow
- Glasgow, Vue Glasgow Fort
- Grays, Vue Thurrock
- Greenhithe, Showcase Bluewater
- Guildford, Odeon Guildford
- Halifax, Vue Halifax
- Hamilton, Vue Hamilton
- Hartlepool, Vue Hartlepool
- Hemel Hempstead, Cineworld Hemel Hempstead
- Henley-on-Thames, Regal Picturehouse
- Hereford, Odeon Hereford
- High Wycombe, Cineworld High Wycombe
- Hull, Odeon Hull
- Hull, Vue Hull Princes Quay
- Inverness, Vue Inverness
- Leamington Spa, Vue Leamington Spa (Apollo)
- Leeds, Vue Leeds Kirkstall Road
- Leeds, Vue Leeds The Light
- Leicester, Vue Leicester
- Limerick, Vue Limerick
- Livingston, Vue Livingston
- Llandudno, Cineworld Llandudno
- Manchester, Vue Manchester Printworks
- Melton Mowbray, Regal Cinema
- Merthyr Tydfil, Vue Merthyr Tydfil
- Milton Keynes, Odeon Milton Keynes Stadium
- Newbury, Vue Newbury
- Newcastle-under-Lyme, Vue Newcastle-under-Lyme
- Northampton, Vue Northampton
- Northwich, Odeon Northwich
- Norwich, Cinema City Picturehouse
- Norwich, Odeon Norwich
- Norwich, Vue Norwich
- Oxford, Odeon Oxford George Street
- Oxford, Phoenix Picturehouse
- Oxford, Ultimate Picture Palace
- Oxford, Vue Oxford
- Paignton, Vue Torbay (Apollo)
- Paisley, Showcase Paisley
- Perth, Perth Playhouse
- Peterborough, Showcase Peterborough
- Plymouth, Plymouth College Of Art
- Plymouth, Vue Plymouth
- Poole, Cineworld Poole
- Portsmouth, Vue Portsmouth
- Preston, Vue Preston
- Reading, Showcase Reading Cinema De Lux
- Reading, Vue Reading
- Redditch, Vue Redditch (Apollo)
- Redruth, Regal Film Centre
- Salisbury, Odeon Salisbury
- Scunthorpe, Vue Scunthorpe
- Sheffield, Odeon Sheffield
- Sheffield, Vue Sheffield
- Sidmouth, Radway Cinema
- Southampton, Odeon Southampton
- Southport, Vue Southport
- Stafford, Odeon Luxe Stafford
- Stirling, Vue Stirling
- Stockport, Marple Regent
- Stockton-on-Tees, Arc
- Stockton-on-Tees, Showcase Teesside
- Street, Strode Theatre
- Stroud, Vue Stroud (Apollo)
- Swansea, Vue Swansea
- Taunton, Odeon Taunton
- Thanet, Vue Westwood Cross
- Thornton-Cleveleys, Vue Cleveleys
- Tunbridge Wells, Odeon Tunbridge Wells
- Wallasey, The Light Cinema, New Brighton
- Watford, Vue Watford
- Wellingborough, Castle Theatre
- Weymouth, Cineworld Weymouth
- Whitby, Whitby Pavilion Complex
- Wirksworth, The Northern Light Cinema
- Worcester, Vue Worcester
- York, Vue York

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