It’s Carré on Mos­sad, with a dash of 007

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

The The Night Man­ager Drum­mer

Khalil has just wiped out an Is­raeli fam­ily in Bad Godes­burg, in the diplo­matic quar­ter of Bonn, West Ger­many, and we first meet Kurtz when he goes in to brief the Is­raeli sur­vivor.

Khalil, we learn, is one of four Pales­tinian broth­ers, and Kurtz’s big idea is to re­cruit a young and de­sir­able nonJewish girl (Florence Pugh, who plays Char­lie) as bait to at­tract the youngest brother, Salim — and thus pro­vide the Is­raelis with lev­er­age over Khalil the bomber. Khalil seems quite keen on us­ing young women as lures, too — it Is­raeli spy Becker (Alexan­der Skars­gard) and his love in­ter­est, Char­lie (Florence Pugh) was the 1970s, after all — but I do wish the women had looked a bit dif­fer­ent from each other, since I spent con­sid­er­able time mis­tak­ing one hon­ey­trap­per for Char­lie. And there is a lot of at­ten­tion paid to watches. By their time­pieces shall ye know our Is­raelis, and our Pales­tini­ans, and our dupes.

Char­lie — based on Le Carré’s own ac­tress half-sis­ter, Char­lotte Corn­well — is a 22-year-old playing St Joan in half-empty Lon­don fringe the­atres. Bizarrely, no­body in her theatre com­pany ques­tions the iden­tity of the gen­er­ous “donor” who pays for the en­tire troupe to go to Greece, osten­si­bly to re­hearse their next pro­duc­tion, but more prob­a­bly to spend a he­do­nis­tic time on Naxos beach.

But Char­lie, full of rad­i­cal pol­i­tics like most 22-year-olds, is be­ing set up from afar by Kurtz. He is a Holo­caust sur­vivor, as he tells a West Ger­man po­lice chief, and that means he has scores to set­tle.

So, as the camera pans over a dark of­fice in Mos­sad HQ in Tel Aviv, in which state-of-the-art daisy­wheel type­writ­ers sit in ser­ried ranks next to a group of coloured dial tele­phones — I said this was a tech-free se­ries — we learn of Kurtz’s plan.

He has an Is­raeli spy in the field, Becker, played by Alexan­der Skars­gard, and an un­der­stand­ably con­fused Char­lie will be asked to pre­tend she is fall­ing in love with the Pales­tinian Salim — while in fact fall­ing for the dark and brood­ing Becker.

There is a fairly scary car sce­nario at the end of the episode in which a ter­ri­fied Char­lie is scream­ing for her driver to slow down, and I was scream­ing at the pair of them to put seat­belts on. Then I re­mem­bered that seat­belts were not com­pul­sory un­til 1983.

Char­lie, by the way, is wear­ing a yel­low dress in this scene, pre­sum­ably on the grounds that if she threw up on brown, you would not be able to tell.

PHOTO: BBC PIC­TURES

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