Home Six Minutes To Midnight

Six Minutes To Midnight (12A)

Cast: Dame Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, James D'Arcy, Eddie Izzard, Carla Juri
Genre: Thriller
Author(s): Celyn Jones, Andy Goddard, Eddie Izzard
Director: Andy Goddard
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 99mins
Country: UK
Year: 2020

On August 15 1939, British spy Mr Wheatley realises his cover as an English teacher at Augusta-Victoria College in Bexhill-on-Sea has been blown. He hastily arranges a rendezvous with his superior, Colonel Smith, but an enemy operative intervenes before the agent can share intelligence about the finishing school. A few days later, headmistress Miss Rocholl interviews journeyman teacher Thomas Miller as a replacement.


LondonNet Film Review
Six Minutes To Midnight (12A)

A real-life finishing school on the south coast of England, which polished German girls between 1932 and 1939, provides an intriguing setting for director Andy Goddard’s slow-burning espionage thriller. Based on a script co-written by Goddard and actors Eddie Izzard and Celyn Jones, Six Minutes To Midnight is an entertaining if occasionally far-fetched yarn cast in the mould of The 39 Steps, which goes on the run with a man wrongly accused of murder as the threat of war looms across Europe. It’s an old-fashioned tale of skulduggery and deception, which engineers dramatic tension by introducing an arbitrary 24-hour countdown to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s declaration of war on Germany…

That invisible ticking clock, replicated in the score of composer Marc Streitenfeld, creates sufficient narrative thrust to carry the plot through some of its least plausible twists, like one laughable example of covert surveillance in front of an open doorway, where the spy can be easily spotted by his targets. A colourful if entirely superfluous supporting performance from Jim Broadbent as a rosy-cheeked bus driver invigorates a chase sequence in the briskly paced second half.

Goddard’s picture opens strongly on August 15 1939, when British spy Mr Wheatley (Nigel Lindsay) realises his cover as an English teacher at Augusta-Victoria College in Bexhill-on-Sea has been blown. He hastily arranges a rendezvous with his superior, Colonel Smith (David Schofield), but an enemy operative intervenes before the agent can share intelligence about the finishing school. A few days later, headmistress Miss Rocholl (Dame Judi Dench) interviews journeyman teacher Thomas Miller (Izzard) as a replacement, working alongside assistant Ilse Keller (Carla Juri) to prepare German girls for their introduction to police British society.

“England can be an unforgiving place if you happen to be German,” confides Miss Rocholl, who joins students in vociferous Sieg Heil salutes at the end of radio broadcasts of Hitler’s addresses. The girls are daughters of high-ranking Nazis and undertake daily physical exercise as well as lessons in deportment, Shakespeare and spoken English. Led by Aryan poster child Astrid (Maria Dragus), the German teenagers greet Mr Miller’s arrival with disdain until they discover he speaks German and can understand their whispered insults. Staff and students are blissfully unaware that the new recruit is also a British spy, charged with unravelling the mystery of his predecessor’s demise.

Six Minutes To Midnight ticks by pleasingly and doesn’t outstay its welcome, milking a few droplets of suspense from the hunt for a red telephone box to make an important call to Whitehall. Izzard isn’t wholly convincing as a skilled pawn of the British government and his haphazard course through the film relies more on luck than skill. Dench lends gravitas to her misguided educator, who learns a valuable lesson about trust on the golden sands beyond Pevensey Castle.

– Jo Planter


London Cinemas Showing Six Minutes To Midnight


From: Friday 23rd July
To: Thursday 29th July

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UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Six Minutes To Midnight


From: Friday 23rd July
To: Thursday 29th July

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From: Friday 30th July
To: Thursday 5th August

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