Meanwhile, Jericho's superiors doubt his stability, as he has just returned from a stint in a mental hospital, having suffered a nervous breakdown after a brief, passionate affair with Claire (Saffron Burrows), who has subsequently vanished under mysterious circumstances, leaving incriminating documents stolen from the compound hidden under her floorboards. With the help of Claire's roommate Hester (Kate Winslet), Jericho attempts to track her down, ultimately uncovering a vast conspiracy that indicates there's a spy in their midst.
Screenwriter Tom Stoppard's modifications to the novel by Robert Harris set the climactic scenes simultaneously, cross-cutting between Jericho cracking the Nazis' new system with Hester decoding the discovered documents using the old system--upping the pace as well as giving the Hester character something more to do than stand by and watch Jericho do all the work. But then simplicity falls by the wayside, and complex plot points are quickly introduced that could easily lose an audience not paying close attention.
Director Michael Apted and Stoppard set as much of the film as possible in the lush British countryside and out of the bookish interiors of the code-breaking barracks, and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey takes full advantage of the opportunity, juxtaposing the characters' wartime setting with peaceful surroundings such as placid lakes, jaunty dirt roads and golden cornfields.
Scott here is dour and brooding--a far cry from the baby-faced prince he played in "Ever After" or the handsome villain in "Mission: Impossible 2"--in a performance that lends credibility to his acting ability if it doesn't endear him to viewers. Likewise, Winslet is plain and downright dowdy in large, horn-rimmed spectacles, a departure from her recent alluring roles in "Titanic" and "Quills," but, as always, luminous. Starring Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Jeremy Northam and Saffron Burrows. Directed by Michael Apted. Written by Tom Stoppard. Produced by Mick Jagger and Lorne Michaels. No distributor set. Spy thriller. Not yet rated. Running time: 110 min