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Review: A Spy Among Friends – Deadline

Damian Lewis With His Mona Lisa Smirk

by Stephanie Bunbury | Deadline | October 7, 2022

Nothing has quite the same screen allure as a secret world. Espionage is so secret, by definition, that we have to take even its existence as a matter of trust; all we know about what goes on behind the intelligence agencies’ closed doors is what is relayed to us through books, films and series like A Spy Among Friends, based on Ben Macintyre’s book about the British double agent Kim Philby. Presumably, a certain kind of person is drawn to that world where nothing can be let slip outside it. To work for both sides, one must constantly be aware of who said what to whom, who knows what, who saw you where, who remembers you there — that anyone should want that life is a mystery in itself.

A Spy Among Friends – two episodes of which are screening as part of the London Film Festival – reunites Alexander Cary, a writer and producer on the long-running espionage series Homeland, with actor Damian Lewis, who also steps up as an executive producer of the new series. Lewis is best known on both sides of the Atlantic as Homeland’s Nicholas Brody, the Marine Corps sniper imprisoned and possibly “turned” by Al-Qaeda. Here he enters another secret world, but in a very different guise: He plays Nicholas Elliott, an operative with foreign security agency SIS, who also is the closest friend of Philby (Guy Pearce).

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Categories A Spy Among Friends BFI London Film Festival Print Media Review

Review: A Spy Among Friends – The Telegraph

A Cerebral and Fiendish Remix of the Kim Philby Tale

by Jasper Rees | The Telegraph | October 7, 2022

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce are magnificent in a satisfyingly complex drama which focuses on Philby’s escape to Beirut in 1963.

Nothing illustrated the length of the journey made by Kim Philby from West to East, from British mandarin to Soviet icon, than his funeral. The casket, in the Russian style, was open, enabling his widow to lean in for a final caress of that infamous poker face. (You can watch the footage for yourself in Adam Curtis’s compendious forthcoming BBC series about the death rattle of communism.)

In a sense the lid will never close over the coffin of England’s most notorious traitor. Like other enigmas – see also Albert Speer – the story of a third man with two paymasters and four wives can never be definitively told, the case never closed. Hunting for the real Philby among the false fronts and double lives is like wandering around a maze uncertain if you’re looking for the entrance or the exit. From every new angle glint more questions.

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