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“The Little Drummer Girl,” Reviewed: A Fever Dream of Glamorous Espionage
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Senior Mossad spy Martin Kurtz is dispatched to Europe to hunt down and eliminate the Palestinian terror cell, which is led by Michel's wily older brother Khalil. Meanwhile, left-wing English stage actress Charmian "Charlie" Ross and her troupe tour Greece as part of a corporate "charity job. In Athens , Martin subjects Charlie to an "audition", asking her questions about her past. When Charlie lies about her family background, Martin decides that they can use her acting talents to infiltrate and eliminate Khalil's terror network.
Meanwhile, the captive Michel is held at a Mossad safehouse in Munich where he is tricked by his Mossad captors led by Martin's lieutenant Shimon into believing he is in an Israeli prison. Using a combination of drugs and psychological pressure including a faked letter from Michel's sister Fatmeh and a faked photo of a captive Khalil, Shimon's team discover that Michel was supposed to deliver the semtex shipment to Salzburg in Austria. Back in Greece, Gadi coaches Charlie into posing as one of Michel's girlfriends.
As part of the training, Gadi role-plays as Michel.
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Charlie exacts a promise from Gadi to tell her more about himself in return for her work as a spy. Claire Wilson . As part of her rookie mission, Charlie is tasked with smuggling the semtex inside Michel's red Mercedes through Yugoslavia and into Austria. Gadi and the rest of the team monitor Charlie's movements from a safe distance.
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Meanwhile, Shimon's Munich team discovers that Michel has lied about the drop-off point. Shimon breaks Michel by revealing that his imprisonment was a set-up and secures the true drop-off zone: an Austrian town called Gutigplatz. After being informed by Gadi about the change in destination, Charlie arrives in Gutigplatz where she parks the car in the town square. Michel's girlfriend Anna drives the vehicle but is intercepted and captured by Mossad agents.
Arriving at the Munich safe house, Charlie is horrified by the treatment of the drugged-up Michel.
“The Little Drummer Girl,” Reviewed: A Fever Dream of Glamorous Espionage | The New Yorker
Nevertheless, she continues with the mission and writes fake love letters to Michel to perpetuate the ruse that she is one of his many lovers. After a one-night stand with Gadi, Charlie returns to London to await contact with Khalil's local associates. Back in Munich, the Mossad team eliminate Michel and Anna in a staged motor accident.
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Back in London, Charlie continues her spy training under the tutelage of Gadi, who outfits her with a transmitter. While meeting with them in a caravan, she first learns of the deaths of Michel and Anna. We had already witnessed Charlie bonding with Khalil in a remote countryside cottage and realised, via flashback, that he had already scrutinised her while posing as her firing range instructor in Lebanon, last episode. He was slim and handsome with striking but wary eyes. Of course, he would be intrigued by the bolshy English woman who had apparently bewitched his late brother Salim, but his tactical instincts remained in place: a strip search, a push-and-pull interrogation, the fateful ejection of some batteries from her alarm clock radio.
She watched as he patiently constructed and connected all the elements of the suitcase bomb, as well as creating the wire doll that had become his calling card. While Charlie was being quietly assessed by Khalil, we got an extra helping of Charles Dance , huffing round the concrete campus of the target area. How better to put Khalil off his guard than by convincing him that reality had yet again been shaped by his will?
The similarities between Becker the veteran warrior and Khalil the patient tactician were foregrounded: both wore Milk Tray Man rollnecks and mournful expressions. If that was not enough, Park Chan-wook shot them in split-screen to drive the point home: neither would concede, so the carnage would continue. After a passionate night with Charlie — who, in the chilly early morning, seemed to weigh up the option of calling in the cavalry but instead stuck with her role — his survival instincts twitched when the milkman failed to show.
His suspicions were heightened further when batteries miraculously reappeared in her rigged clock radio, although he was not to know that removing them would bring Becker crashing in swiftly followed by a hail of bullets. Then we were back with Charlie, literally an actor resting between roles in a secure Israeli location with wonderful sea views and a high razor—wire—fenced perimeter.
After a frosty debrief, the chances of her working with Kurtz again look slim but, after intercepting a message via cigarette carton, she travelled to Austria to reunite with Becker. Against all the odds, and despite their shared inner turmoil, Charlie and her scarred soldier seemed to get at least the hint of a happy ending.
The Little Drummer Girl has never been big on laughs but the moment when Charlie blurted out that the bomb she was carrying was set to detonate at 5.