Bridge of Spies19 Oct 2015
Bridge of Spies is undeniably a feat of accomplishment. Fitting in neatly in Spielberg’s filmography next to Munich, Schindler’s List and Lincoln, Bridge of Spies can lay claim to being among one of the best writer/director collaborations in contemporary Hollywood. The script benefited from a Coen Brothers re-write, with interjections of humor, some elevated intellectual writing (like all the dualities featured throughout the film, juxtapositions all in service of the US v USSR construct), and also some of the tripartite constructs (“1, 1, 1”). To my mind, though, the highlight of the film was supporting role played by Mark Rylance. His portrayal of Rudolf Abel set the tone of the film right from the get go and added a sense of gravity every time he was on screen (with the possible exception of the last line of the film, ugh).
My biggest complaint, with the film, and something that deflated the whole experience for me was the final act. Spielberg spent the whole film setting up important questions about justice, moral superiority, national identities, the tough balance between national security and constitutional rights, all of these difficult questions that America has had to face in the last century, and continues to face today. After all this, the ending gives us a jingoistic, “America is better than everyone else,” hyper-sentimental conclusion. It wasn’t the conclusion the film earned, and it wasn’t the conclusion that resonates with me.