A Most Wanted Man | Francis Levy

August 21, 2014 8:32 PM

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A Most Wanted Man | Francis Levy

Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance in Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man raises the question of how many cigarettes a spy can smoke and also how many drinks he can imbibe and still see straight. Spying is a form of perceiving and if your mind is clouded how are you supposed to pick up the clues you are looking for? Margarethe von Trotta's Hannah Arendt was plagued by the same problem of depicting a ponderous character carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. In Hannah Arendt the struggles of the title character, the author of the highly controversial Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, were always depicted by shoving a cigarette in her mouth. The props, in this case the cigarette or bottle that is always being reached for, drown out the nuances of a character who sardonically describes his mission as making "the world a better place."

A Most Wanted Man is adapted from the John Le Carre novel and it's almost impossible to parse the numerous moral dilemmas that the movie poses amidst the fog of smoke. Suffice it to say that the conflict between fathers and sons, the murky line between victims and perpetrators and the question of me...

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