Red Joan


Red Joan (2019)



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Movie Info

In a picturesque village in England, Joan Stanley (Academy Award (R) winner Dame Judi Dench), lives in contented retirement. Then suddenly her tranquil existence is shattered as she's shockingly arrested by MI5. For Joan has been hiding an incredible past; she is one of the most influential spies in living history... Cambridge University in the 1930s, and the young Joan (Sophie Cookson), a demure physics student, falls intensely in love with a seductively attractive Russian saboteur, Leo. Through him, she begins to see that the world is on a knife-edge and perhaps must be saved from itself in the race to military supremacy. Post-war and now working at a top secret nuclear research facility, Joan is confronted with the impossible: Would you betray your country and your loved ones, if it meant saving them? What price would you pay for peace? Inspired by an extraordinary true story, Red Joan is the taut and emotional discovery of one woman's sacrifice in the face of incredible circumstances. A woman to whom we perhaps all owe our freedom.


Critic Reviews for Red Joan

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

Most of the fun in Red Joan comes from such overthrown expectations, so it's a shame that the film itself fails to overwhelm - mostly proceeding along dully familiar lines and anything but radical.

Sep 12, 2018 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

A taut old-school thriller with a modern heroine.

Sep 9, 2018 | Full Review…

A would-be sweeping epic that instead turns out tweedy, dreary, and unconvincing.

Sep 8, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The film combines the personal with the political in a gripping story of one woman's life- and world-altering decision.

Nov 19, 2018 | Full Review…

It's always dangerous to wonder about what a film might have been rather than contending with what it is, but in this case what it is, is so bland, and so stolidly workmanlike in execution...

Oct 17, 2018 | Rating: C | Full Review…

Because the film doesn't know what story of Joan it wants to tell, it tries on too much so that in the end, we are left with little beyond spy-romance tropes.

Sep 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Red Joan

This story had the potential to be a sharp historical account of the development of the atomic bomb in the 1940s, if it had focused on interesting science, politics and espionage. The scenes with present-day Joan and her son deliver most of its substance and the key facts. The young Joan was inventing the bomb, a member of a secret wartime team of scientists, and she was also a Russian spy. However, the film treats her less as a cool head, and more as a slave to romance. Compare The Imitation Game - in this film, we needed greater details of 'the quickest mind in atomic physics'; and how she operated. Just as in life she was apparently treated as though she were invisible, or the tea lady, so the film skates over her importance. Even then, the romances are patchy, the sex scenes embarrassing. The other Russian spies are exceptionally beautiful, charismatic and glamorous; who would not have picked them out? Logical threads get fuzzy, the screenplay and editing jump around, with key plot devices introduced towards the end. People looking for a period piece will enjoy the lavishly produced English scenes, cars and clothing, plus hairstyles. People who want an insight into the events will get some. To understand Joan herself, you have to wade through all the padding, while it's the scenes with Dench that deliver the essence of the story.

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