A Call to Spy movie review: Radhika Apte plays Noor Inayat Khan in the spy drama.

A Call to Spy movie review: Are you Raazi for more Radhika Apte?

A Call to Spy
Director – Lydia Dean Pilcher
Cast – Sarah Megan Thomas, Stana Katic, Radhika Apte, Linus Roache

Dramatically inert and oddly unaffecting, A Call to Spy does a disservice to the unimaginable ladies that it needs to honour, and regardless of brimming with plot, feels surprisingly empty. It’s all the time troublesome to write down about movies as bland as this, however the issues are invariably simple to determine.

Here, they come up principally out of a confused screenplay, and an utter lack of assets to understand it. A Call to Spy, out there on Amazon Prime Video in India, tells the story of three ladies — every of whom performed a significant function within the Allied resistance towards the Nazis throughout World War 2 — however has no thought whom to focus its consideration on. And by trying (and failing) to do all three of them equal justice, the movie finally ends up short-changing all of them.

Watch the trailer for A Call to Spy right here


Stana Katic performs British ‘spymistress’ Vera Atkins, who’s tasked with recruiting new brokers to ship into France. And so she picks a cripple and a pacifist, with the hope that their unassuming appearances would assist shield their cowl.

Sarah Megan Thomas, along with taking part in the movie’s meatiest function — the wooden-legged go-getter Virginia Hall — can be credited because the movie’s author and producer. A Call to Spy can, due to this fact, be described as a ‘vanity project’ — a time period with distinctly destructive connotations, typically interchangeable with the infinitely extra positive ‘passion project’. But deciding which to make use of is a matter of private style.

‘Passionate’ wouldn’t be the primary phrase I’d use to explain this film; it wouldn’t even be the 10th. A Call to Spy has a definite ‘made for television’ high quality, which might both be as a result of director Lydia Dean Pilcher needed to minimize corners, or as a result of, apart from a fuzzy feminist spirit, the film has little character.

Since the cash’s tight, so are the photographs. This robs the image of scale, and the environments of all ambiance. It feels prefer it was filmed on a few soundstages, with the placement work restricted to medium photographs and close-ups, thereby relieving the film of the strain to fill the body with period-accurate particulars, comparable to vehicles and storefronts. I wouldn’t be shocked if the manufacturing stitched up solely a dozen or so Nazi uniforms, which the extras needed to change between them on the day.

Sarah Megan Thomas and Radhika Apte in a nonetheless from A Call to Spy.

Joining Virginia in her mission is Noor Inayat Khan, performed by Radhika Apte. Noor is described because the daughter of an American lady and an Indian man, a British citizen who was born in Russia however grew up in France. If something, this provides Apte an excuse to utilise her culturally obscure real-life accent within the film as effectively.

In idea, the movie might’ve chosen any of those three ladies as its sole protagonist and there would have been sufficient materials (and maybe a fair better quantity left over) to maintain the story. Noor’s Gandhian values, her identification as an outsider, and the tragic nature of her life would have made for a very strong biopic. But by sprinting between the characters and merely touching upon their noble contributions to the battle effort, A Call to Spy runs out of breath, and finally ends up having all of the emotional heft of a Wikipedia entry.

A big purpose for that is Thomas’ extremely dry script, which is totally devoid of any actual rigidity. Characters are susceptible to creating declarations comparable to, “We have to get this right!” And, “What we do here changes the course of the future!” But the clunkiest change includes Vera arising with a seemingly spontaneous code identify for one of many operatives, and relaying it to her boss. “Philomena,” she says, “It means ‘strength’.” Subtle.

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At no level do you concern for these ladies — they’re, in spite of everything, in enemy territory — and at no level do you get a way of what’s at stake. This is unlucky, as a result of, quite a lot of the time, they’re in very actual hazard of being caught, and the stakes, as we all know, had been reasonably astronomical.

None of those issues would have mattered had A Call to Spy been a superb movie, however it isn’t a superb movie exactly due to them. These ladies deserved higher, and so do you.

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The creator tweets @RohanNaahar