This week brought news of Lionsgate purchasing distribution rights to one of Damian’s many projects currently “in the can” and awaiting release: Our Kind of Traitor. So this week has me veering away from my usual florid prose and simply presenting a bit of background and a small taste of what we can expect when this spy thriller, written by John Le Carre and filmed in London (and Morocco), eventually comes to our screens.
Though I’ve always appreciated a good thriller on screen, I must confess, it’s not a genre I regularly read. Of those who do read him, it’s common knowledge I suppose that John Le Carre is known for his stories of Cold War espionage. Born David John Moore Cornwell, Le Carre worked as a spy himself for the British Secret service before acquiring his pen name and marching forth on a long and prolific career of writing what he knew best. When the decades long stand-off with Russia ended, Le Carre found himself in a world where not all bad guys could be cast as Russians. Like a real estate mogul at the crash of the housing market, Le Carre had to change gears. He has since shifted the focus of his oeuvre to the worlds of South American drug rings and conflicts in the Middle East.
Till the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991 and beyond, Le Carre’s work is best described as telling the tales of intrigue and subterfuge among various “unheroic political functionaries aware of the moral ambiguity of their work and engaged in psychological more than physical drama.” Wikipedia also tells us that in Le Carre’s novels, “much of the conflict is internal, rather than external and visible” and that, even though, his genre is ostensibly about bad guy vs good guy, he often paints his worlds with strokes obscuring the lines around conventional morality. (Hm, I’m learning more about Le Carre as I’m writing this, and now I’m thinking I may need to give his novels another chance!)
Le Carre wrote Our Kind of Traitor in 2010 and it features a Russian character very much cast in the new palette of a post-Cold War world. In short, Damian Lewis plays a frustrated spy type, Hector Meredith, who is at odds with how to manuever with his old rule book in this new world and Ewan MacGregor plays a bumbling professor, Peregrine “Perry” Makepiece, who’s taken in by the Russian. In my brief (and interrupted) foray into the novel, some themes flew off the page: capitalism can be just as corrupt, in just as deeply nefarious ways, as the economic theories it has supplanted. And: Russia never died, it was reborn as a somewhat new and as yet not fully dissectable creature, still as globally influential as ever, but in ways it wasn’t before.
So until I get around to picking up the book again and talking about it more knowledgeably than I have here, and until Lionsgate gets around to distributing Our Kind of Traitor to the big screen (we’d be happy with a preview for now!) where we can see it and cut it apart for you, let’s make do with some nice pictures of some lovely and bold horn-rimmed specs, shall we?
Now: Seems the two Etonites on cast had some hosiery-focused fun in the make-up trailer whilst filming this movie. Posted on both Ewan McGregor’s instagram and Damian Lewis’ Twitter: One (or two) of these feet festooned in stripy socks is Damian’s! Guess which one (or two)!