Look, I'm not exactly a prude when it comes to movies that feature actors trying to put on accents. I'm the kind of guy that enjoys performances like Lawrence Olivier playing a Jewish cantor in Neil Diamond's "The Jazz Singer". Who could forget," Jasau, she does haff Mama's eyes!" or "I haff no son!" But, director John Schlesinger's new Cold War drama "The Innocent" definitely pushes the limits of credibility.
"The Innocent" features "Singles" alum Campbell Scott as Leonard, a British intelligence agent sent to work for those ugly Americans in Berlin during the beginning of the Cold War. Leonard struggles to understand his American co-workers, especially Anthony Hopkins, who plays the REALLY ugly American, Bob Glass. Glass is a caustic jerk much of the time, but strangely enough, he has a certain amount of charm. Must be that great Anglo/American accent he's brandishing.
As the two men get used to each other, all sorts of GASP! intrigue happens, especially after our hero meets a pretty German girl, Isabella Rossellini. She's just too appealing for poor Leonard, who's sucked in by her Italian/German/Axis powers. There's a gigantic side-step taken once its established that the Allies are secretly working on a tunnel that runs under Russian/East German territory. She starts pumping him for information, he starts pumping her for......AHEM! , and all sorts of nutty, "Spy Who Came In From the Cold" type stuff happens.
Now, call me a nut, but are we, the viewers, expected to believe that : A. Campbell Scott, American Gen-X actor extraordinaire, is British? or: B. Anthony Hopkins, British Oscar winner extraordinaire, is American? Watching these two guys play "dueling accents" with each other was like watching a Rich Little routine in Vegas. Oh, and we mustn't forget dear, sweet, Isabella Rossellini, who struggles to deny her Italian/Swedish bloodlines while playing a German woman who's supposed to be twentysomething.
And yet, I can't help it: I actually liked this bizarre little trip to the land of bractwurst, I mean....hot dogs, I mean...scallopini. The spy stuff is mildly interesting, and the characters are, well, weird! I probably wouldn't dump my "better side of ten bucks on it" though. My advice: Wait for "The Innocent" on late night cable.
Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin
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