Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

Critic’s Notebook: Damian Lewis Returns to the World of International Espionage

Damian Lewis is Outstanding as Elliott

by Mike Hale | New York Times | May 10, 2023

It has been a quiet season for international television on American screens — nothing has grabbed attention on a Squid Game or Downton Abbey scale. But barely a day goes by, in the streaming age, without an interesting series washing up from some foreign shore. Here are four recent shows worth tracking down, from an elegant British thriller to a Chinese dramedy about a demon god and an immortal warrior who meet cute on the mortal plane.

Damian Lewis returns to the world of international espionage as an MI6 agent in the complicated, fact-based mini-series A Spy Among Friends.

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Categories Album Mission Creep Music Music Festival Print Media Review

Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Damian Lewis – Live Review

Well Crafted Songs and Strong Vocals

by Hannah Compton | Building Our Own Nashville | May 1, 2023

Actor Damian Lewis has always had a passion for playing music and putting out a record of his own. Signed to Decca Records, Damian released his first single ‘Down on the Bowery’ on April 13th 2023.

His debut album Mission Creep is out June 16th and can be pre ordered here.

Playing in the Jazz Arena at Cheltenham Jazz Festival with a seven piece band that consisted of the Kansas Smitty Band, the show was an absolute sell out full of keen fans of the actor who were curious to be a part of one of his first ever live performances promoting his forthcoming debut album.

“Hello Everyone”, Lewis greeted “I am a Cheltenham Jazz Festival virgin only to be deflowered by this audience and I am glad it’s you”.

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Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

What to Watch: The 17 Best New Movies and TV Shows From March

Betrayal of Both Colleague and Country

by WSJ Arts in Review Staff | Wall Street Journal | March 31, 2023

John Wick and Adonis Creed make bloody returns, Ted Lasso makes a benevolent one, documentaries revisit the disasters of Waco, Texas, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Sally Hawkins finds the remains of Richard III, and much, much more.

Here’s a roundup of the month’s most noteworthy movies and TV shows, as covered by The Wall Street Journal’s critics.

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Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

I Spy A Spy in ‘A Spy Among Friends’

Mano o Mano

by J.P Devine | Morning Sentinel | March 30, 2023

I remember this story because I’m old. If you’re older than 60, you will as well, but at the time, here in America, you probably didn’t care. It was 1963, and the assassination of JFK was enough to deal with, and no one here even knew the rest of the world existed or cared.

But when this story “A Spy Among Friends,” taken from the book by Ben Macintyre, finally found space to let us think about it, we learned that MI6 (British CIA) and the notorious Kim Philby (Guy Pearce, “The Road”) had been a double agent for the Russians since his college years.

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Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

A Spy Among Friends Places Damian Lewis in a Heady Spy Game

It’s a Role Lewis Plays Beautifully

by Daniel D’Addario | Variety | March 12, 2023

The story of Kim Philby is perhaps too good to make up. The British spy, a double agent for Moscow, operated at the highest levels of the intelligence community; his ability to disseminate information to the Soviet Union, to which he eventually defected, is proof, perhaps, of the power of personal charm and erudition to cover over what’s lying in plain sight.

That’s the powerfully told story of “A Spy Among Friends,” which streamed on ITVX in the United Kingdom last year and which now arrives on nascent streamer MGM+. Guy Pearce plays Philby, who has at the series’ outset been a valued Soviet source for many years; likely his closest friend in tradecraft, Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis), must get a confession from him. We see the pair’s relationship over time in layered flashbacks, adding context and understanding to Elliott’s failure to nail down Philby.

The story is adapted by Alexander Cary from Ben Macintyre’s novel, which embroiders on the real-life Philby and Elliott’s tale; it’s rather a clever thing to use likely the most infamous real-life British espionage scandal as the backbone of a John Le Carré-esque tale. The story is told through Elliott’s recollections: Anna Maxwell Martin plays a fictional interrogator who walks through the story of Elliott and Philby’s relationship, and who brings a crystalline level of distrust and disdain to her work. Among the pleasures of “A Spy Among Friends” is the spectacle of Elliott’s performing for the woman scrutinizing him, adding shading and dimension to his memories.

For what passed between Philby and Elliott is perhaps unknowable even to the men themselves — how, indeed, could a spy as experienced as Elliott let Philby slip away? Part of it, “A Spy Among Friends” argues, is the dynamic nodded at by the title: The clubby and parochial world of intelligence ran on social connections, befitting a culture undergirded by endless unwritten codes of what is socially appropriate.

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Categories A Spy Among Friends Interviews Print Media Review

VIDEO: Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce on the Friendship at the Center of A Spy Among Friends

Who Would Make the Better Secret Agent?

by Kate Hahn | TV Insider | March 10, 2023

Damian Lewis, who won an Emmy for playing Marine double agent Nicholas Brody on Homeland, is back in the spy game as a patriot in MGM+‘s A Spy Among Friends, a tense adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction bestseller.

Lewis is a reserved British intelligence man, Nicholas Elliott, who discovers that his best friend and colleague, the witty, charismatic Kim Philby (Guy Pearce) is a traitor. The case, which broke in the early 60s after Philby had spied for 30 years, became notorious in the U.K.

Continue reading VIDEO: Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce on the Friendship at the Center of A Spy Among Friends

Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

Loyalty and Affection is Threatened in ‘A Spy Among Friends’

A Show That Makes You Question All Your Relationships

by Mark Kennedy | Washington Post | March 10, 2023

NEW YORK (AP) — A main character in “A Spy Among Friends” is one of the Soviet Union’s most notorious double agents. But you don’t need to know anything about him — or really about spying in general — to enjoy the show.

The MGM+ series starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce dramatizes the true story of two British spies and lifelong friends, Nicholas Elliott (Lewis) and Kim Philby (Pearce.) The latter became a notorious British defector. But it’s the personal betrayal that the creators hope to explore, not stolen microfilm or dead drops.

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Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

MGM+’s A Spy Among Friends Is a Patient, Magisterial Addition to the Spy Pantheon

A Tremendous Restraint and Delicacy to Lewis’ Performance

by Shane Ryan | Paste Magazine | March 10, 2023

If you are, like me, intermittently obsessed with the business of espionage, the name Kim Philby holds a sort of ineffable mystique in the darkest corners of your brain. Philby was the most notorious of the Cambridge Five, a group of British intelligence operatives who betrayed their country in ways big and small by spying for the Soviets from the 1930s through World War II, and in some cases well into the Cold War. Philby rose the highest, and caused the most damage and sacrificed the most lives—at one point, he was the chief British intelligence officer in the U.S.—and what’s most remarkable about his story is not his ideology, or his treason, but the fact that he should have been caught decades before he fled to the USSR.

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Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

A Spy Among Friends Review: Guy Pearce as Kim Philby

A Nuanced, Finely Acted Cold War Series on MGM+

by John Anderson | Wall Street Journal | March 9, 2023

The six-part espionage drama “A Spy Among Friends” opens with a well-known quote from novelist E.M. Forster, which blooms enigmatic as the series rolls out: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” By the end of episode 1, one would like to say to Forster, “Define friend.”

You can’t (he died in 1970), but Forster’s intent seems to have been straightforward enough. Not so the series, which amid all its intrigue, double meanings, double-entendres and double-dealing is about friendship and its slippery definitions. As a screen card proclaims at the outset of creator-writer Alexander Cary’s expansive adaptation, the period thriller is based on Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction book of 2014, but is itself “a work of imagination” in which names have been changed, scenes invented, etc. Nevertheless, it hews very closely to the true-crime case of infamous British double-agent Kim Philby (Guy Pearce), his close friend Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis), and Philby’s epic betrayal of both colleagues and country.

Read the rest of the original article at WSJ

Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

A Spy Among Friends Review: An Elegant Cold War Thriller

A Talky Espionage Caper

by Manuel Betancourt | AV Club | March 8, 2023

The title for A Spy Among Friends, last year’s British thriller that makes its MGM+ premiere on March 12, intentionally flirts with the glaring tension its narrative rests on. The spy genre, after all, depends on a timeless mantra—“trust no one”—that seems to stand in clear contradistinction to what one expects from one’s friendships. Writer Alex Cary and director Nick Murphy have taken Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction book, an account of a famed British espionage Cold War disaster, and punched it up to ask whether it can be possible to not only be but survive being, yes, “a spy among friends.”

One would imagine the answer to be self-evident. Could anyone in the intelligence community, after all, truly put friendship above idealism, above national loyalty, above politics? And yet with every passing episode, this elegantly mounted period drama does keep you guessing as to whether the friendship at the heart of this narrative could well prove to be the exception to the rule.

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Categories A Spy Among Friends Interviews Print Media Review

In ‘A Spy Among Friends,’ B.F.F. Betrayal at an International Level

A Twisty MGM+ Series

by Roslyn Sulcas | New York Times | March 3, 2023

A twisty MGM+ series tells the story of Kim Philby, a British agent secretly working for the Soviet Union, and Nicholas Elliott, his closest friend. Stream beginning March 12.

“Why wasn’t he in custody?” asks the MI5 officer Lily Thomas. It is January 1963, and Thomas is talking about Kim Philby, a British intelligence agent who, after being exposed as a Soviet spy, has escaped to Moscow. Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s closest friend and a fellow member of the foreign intelligence agency MI6, looks slightly nonplused. “Well, that’s not how we —” he begins, before coming to an abrupt halt.

Continue reading In ‘A Spy Among Friends,’ B.F.F. Betrayal at an International Level

Categories A Spy Among Friends Interviews Print Media Review

A Spy Among Friends Cast Previews the Real-Life ‘Brilliantly Interesting’ Friendship

 Preview: Riveting Cat-and-Mouse Conversations

by Kate Hahn | TV Insider | February 24, 2023

If you learned your closest friend was a spy, would you help him evade justice? That’s the looming question in A Spy Among Friends, a slow-burn adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction bestseller about an infamous U.K. traitor.

The limited series opens in 1963 with reserved British intelligence man Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis) being questioned by no-nonsense Lily Thomas (Anna Maxwell Martin) of the U.K.’s domestic intelligence agency MI5. The topic: Elliott’s role in the defection of his chum since the ’40s, charming Kim Philby (Guy Pearce), who has been outed as a double agent.

Continue reading A Spy Among Friends Cast Previews the Real-Life ‘Brilliantly Interesting’ Friendship