Cinematheque: ‘Atomic Blonde’

Monday evening is my only night off this week. Tuesday night will be the tech rehearsal for the show. Wednesday will be the dress rehearsal. Then from Thursday to Saturday it is show-time. For this run, (The show is ‘Uncut 2017 ‘ and is on at the Pearse Centre from 17th to 19th August at 8pm) I have not written any acting part for myself. Partly to do with my utter laziness when it comes to learning lines (make no mistake – just because you have written a piece doesn’t make it magically easier to learn). It also has to do with the fact that ‘Mother’s Little Holiday’ is a sequel to a piece I wrote for the February showcase called ‘Mother’s Little Holiday. The cast remains the same, therefore no room for me. I will be directing this new piece however, so it’s not like I will be idling. I won’t have pre-show nerves in the same manner that I get before going onstage. But the tension will still be palpable.

My Monday plan was to loll about, like a sack of meal on a sofa, watching television. I received a text asking if I wanted to avail of a ‘two for a tenner’ cinema offer. A fiver for a film is a bargain, so I agreed. ‘Atomic Blonde’ in the Odeon Cinema on the top floor of the abandoned shopping centre in the Point it was so.

I knew nothing about the film, save for what I’d seen on the side of Dublin buses. Therefore I knew that Charlize Theron was glammed up and carried a gun.

Charlize Theron is a decent actress.  The films ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and ‘The Cider House Rules’ were enjoyable. Her performance in ‘Monster’ in 2003 was impressive (although I suspect that it was the weight gain and make-up which probably tipped the Oscar in her direction, as our Charlize didn’t hold a patch to Naomi Watts in ’21 Grams’ that year).

So ‘Atomic Blonde’? It’s based on the graphic novel ‘The coldest city’ by Antony Johnston. The year is 1989. Berlin is seething with discontent. The Wall is about to fall. East Berliners are on the march. Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent sent to East Berlin to investigate the death of spy James Gascoigne – who has been murdered by the KGB; and to recover the ‘List’. This list – a microfilm in a watch, contains the list of every spy in the Soviet Union. Gascoigne has been murdered for possessing the list, which was subsequently stolen by the KGB. Ten days later, a bruised and bloody Broughton is back in London being debriefed on the operation.

I could try to give a more detailed explanation, but there is really no point. The plot is so convoluted that it would make no sense if I tried. There’s murder, violence, intrigue, double crossing, double agents and all the usual elements of spy thrillers.

It’s a stylish film, capturing the late 80’s style, atmosphere and music in an enjoyable capsule. Theron is impressive as the ice-cold, blonde foxstress with her high fashion clothing, and killer heels and instinct.

It’s an enjoyable, mindless bit of fun. As a cold war thriller it’s adequate. Although having seen ‘Bridge of spies’ I wouldn’t rank them in the same league.

You can tell that this is an adaptation from a comic (excuse me – graphic novel). It’s loud, brash, fast paced, with highly glamourous, and bottomlessly shallow characterisation. I don’t want to stereotype the readers of graphic novels as being bedroom-dwelling, teenage nerds, with acne. However when Broughton engages in a bit of onscreen girl-on-girl action with an equally glamourous French spy – for no apparent reason – my immediate thought was ‘Well the teenage boys with strong right arms and the bullet proof spectacles will be pleased.’

A decent enough film – escapist and entertaining fluff that’s a pleasant way to spend a few hours. After all sometimes popcorn is more satisfying than hors d’oeuvres.

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