In Cinemas from Boxing Day
(Reviewed by John Glennie)
A very good movie telling the true story of the first two female spies sent by Britain to France early in World War II. Their purpose was to help establish the French Resistance and to thwart the Nazi war effort.
Vera Atkins (Stana Katic) is tasked to recruit the women and the first two appear to be the most unlikely candidates. Virginia Hall (Sarah Megan Thomas) is an American working in the Embassy with aspirations of becoming the first female diplomat. However she is constantly rejected due to her “condition” – she has a wooden leg after having it amputated following a hunting accident. The other unlikely candidate is Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Apte) – a Muslim pacifist who was born in Russia to an American mother and an Indian father. Her value is that she is a brilliant morse code radio operator – very fast and very accurate.
Virginia excels at training and is sent to unoccupied France where she soon proves her value as an outstanding spy. She seems to have a natural aptitude for the role despite the doubts of the male operatives she has to work with. Due to the loss of a key radio operator Noor is sent to France prior to completing her training and, like Virginia, proves her value to the British.
Things take a sudden turn for the worse when Klaus Barbie is sent to France to occupy the remainder of France. Over the years I have heard a lot about his reputation as being a brutal and ruthless tyrant, and that certainly comes across in this movie. He is determined to find the women who are causing so many problems for the Nazi war-machine.
I won’t give any more away, but I highly recommend this movie as a must-see. My partner has a reputation for falling asleep during most films and she, surprisingly, stayed awake for the duration and commented that it was an excellent production! Take particular notice to read the captions at the start and end of the movie.