Both BBC and Park Chan-wook were very well placed when it came to adapting John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl – the former because of their track record of highly acclaimed adaptations of his books into the miniseries format; the latter because of his prowess in weaving visceral, deliberately paced and intricately designed tapestries. The collaboration perfectly encapsulated the thematic nuances, psychological one-upmanship and grimy moral ambiguities that’ve come to define le Carré’s works. That the tale – one of role-plays, manipulations, infiltration, duplicity, betrayals, and tussle between militant idealism and cynical realpolitik – was centered on the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the murky Cold War era, made it all the more arresting. An underground Palestinian revolutionary cell – led by the enigmatic Khalil (Charif Ghattas) and his siblings – are carrying out assassinations targeting the Jewish diaspora in Europe, with the help of radical left-wing European lawyers, activists and students. Martin Kurtz (Michael Shanon), a veteran, Machiavellian Mossad spymaster, in retaliation, forms a crack team of covert operatives for a clandestine, extra-judicial mission to hunt down the elusive leader and liquidate the group. Two members play vital parts in the “theatre of the real” that he stages – Gadi (Alexander Skarsgård), a weary Israeli intelligence officer who’s increasingly on the edge for the noxious things he’s done for a living, and Charlie (Florence Pugh), a young, headstrong and vulnerable English theatre actress who’s lured into playing a central role and starts falling for Gadi. Though its glossiness and few convenient plotting gaps were tad distracting, Park’s expert direction, lack of conventional heroes or villains, moody atmosphere, smoldering tone, stunning vistas and especially commendable turns by Pugh and Skarsgård made this a gripping watch.
Director: Park Chan-wook
Genre: Spy Drama/Miniseries