×

A Different Loyalty

"A Different Loyalty" reps a handsome enough but creakily mechanical star vehicle for Sharon Stone, here playing a ex-pat who must pass through the Iron Curtain when her husband turns out to be a Communist spy. Corny storytelling and wobbly perfs won't gain loyalty from theatrical auds, but pic could find a happier asylum on cable and ancillary.

With:
With: Sharon Stone, Rupert Everett, Julian Wadham, Michael Cochrane, Ann Lambton, Jim Piddock, Richard McMillan, Mimi Kuzyk, Emily Vancamp, Tamara Hope, Mark Rendall, John Bourgeois, Joss Ackland.

Cold-War-set drama “A Different Loyalty” reps a handsome enough but creakily mechanical star vehicle for Sharon Stone, here playing a ex-pat society wife who must pass through the Iron Curtain when her husband (Rupert Everett) turns out to be a Communist spy. Loosely based on the real-life story of British defector Kim Philby and his wife Eleanor, pic forms a disappointing companion piece to helmer Marek Kanievska’s debut “Another Country” which fictionalized Philby-associate Guy Burgess’ early life. Corny storytelling and wobbly perfs won’t gain much loyalty from theatrical auds, but pic could find a happier asylum on cable and ancillary.

Pic follows the basic outline of Eleanor Philby’s story, but renames her Sally, while the character based on Kim Philby (Everett) is renamed Leo Cauffield. Married and living in Beirut in the early-’50s with a young daughter by an American journalist (John Bourgeois), Sally leaves her husband for Leo after a passionate affair. By 1961, she and Leo, who is posing as a stringer for the London Times but is also working for MI6, have two more children and a comfortable niche in Beirut ex-pat society.

One night, Cauffield fails to show up for a dinner party and then stays missing for weeks. The spy org posits that Leo was a double agent working for the KGB, and that he has “found a different loyalty” (their euphemism for a traitor), a fact Sally denies until she gets a letter from him in Moscow, confessing that he defected and asking her to join him with the children.

Third act finds Sally angsting about her options, covertly entering the Soviet Union to see an ailing but ideologically zealous Leo, who is under constant surveillance by the KGB. On return, she’s grilled by the CIA, which wants to know Leo’s whereabouts.

Pic attempts to broaden its reach by mixing Cold War, John Le Carre-style intrigue with woman’s picture passion, but fails to convince in either department. Amateur historians of the notorious Cambridge Five — double-agents Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross, Anthony Blunt and Philby himself, who were all recruited at Trinity College at the same time — will find mild diversion spotting the fictionalized versions here, but the script has little interest in explaining what kind of secrets were passed to the Soviets and why their treachery was so important. Kanievska’s earlier “Another Country,” in which Everett not-so coincidentally starred as young Burgess, was at least richer thematically with its gay subplot and caustic portrait of public school life.

It doesn’t help “A Different Loyalty” that Stone and Everett have virtually no onscreen chemistry, despite insistent nudges by the script that lust is what kept them together despite their hardships. Stone gamely bares her breasts for the camera in several soft-focus sex scenes, but her perf is otherwise frequently mannered, at best recalling her more hysterical moments in “Casino,” at its worst suggestive of an attempt to channel late Joan Crawford, with constant costume changes and a series of struck poses. Everett, who takes an executive producer credit on this, often looks simply bored.

Kanievska and lenser Yvann Thibaudeau relies too much on yellowed flashbacks which give pic a cheesy, TV-miniseries look. End credits suggest co-production money was given a thorough rinsing with location work, with shoots in London, Malta (passing for Beirut), Montreal and Moscow. Tech credits are generally pro, with production design aces on period detail.

A Different Loyalty

Canada-U.K.

Production: A Movision, Arclight Films presentation or a Forum Films (Loyalty) Inc., Fresh Media, Spice Factory production. (International sales: Arclight, Moore Park.) Produced by Jason Piette, Michael L. Cowan, Jan H. Vocke, Richard Lalonde. Executive producers, Allan Joli-Coeur, Oliver Hengst, Rupert Everett, Marie Vine, Peter James, James Simpson, Gary Hamilton, Demitri Samaha. Co-producer, Jim Piddock. Directed by Marek Kanievska. Screenplay, Jim Piddock.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Jean Lepine; editor, Yvann Thibaudeau; music, Normand Corbeil; production designer, Anne Pritchard; art directors, Columbe Raby, Christina Moore, Ilia Amourski; costume designer, Francois Laplante; sound (Dolby Digital), Don Cohen; sound designer, Martin Pinsonnault; associate producer, Renee Hebert; assistant director, Josee Drolet; casting, Lucie Robitaille, Celestia Fox. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 19, 2004. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: With: Sharon Stone, Rupert Everett, Julian Wadham, Michael Cochrane, Ann Lambton, Jim Piddock, Richard McMillan, Mimi Kuzyk, Emily Vancamp, Tamara Hope, Mark Rendall, John Bourgeois, Joss Ackland.

More Film

  • sith trooper

    Sith Trooper Revealed From 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

    “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” revealed a new storm trooper uniform Wednesday at San Diego Comic Con as part of a special exhibit celebrating the evolution of the storm trooper design. Dubbed the Sith trooper, the new uniform sports all-red armor plates with a matching red and black blaster. Also decorating the armor is [...]

  • Dunkirk

    Harry Styles Is the Perfect Prince Eric; Why He'd Rock 'Little Mermaid' Role

    Could Harry Styles be the perfect Prince Eric? One day after the announcement that the One Direction star is “in early negotiations to play the iconic ‘Little Mermaid’ role,” the internet exploded with speculation as to how he would portray the object of Ariel’s affections. “I can see lots of reasons why Harry is perfect,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    Film News Roundup: PETA Sponsors Rescued Lion in Jon Favreau's Name

    In today’s film news roundup, PETA honors Jon Favreau for “The Lion King,” “Tigers Are Not Afraid” gets a theatrical release, a Kirk Franklin biopic is in development and “The Sixth Sense” gets an anniversary showing in Philadelphia. HONOR The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sponsoring a rescued lion to honor director [...]

  • Tokyo Director-in-Focus-at-Japan-Now

    Nobuhiko Obayashi set as Japanese Director in Focus at Tokyo Film Festival

    Indie director, Nobuhiko Obayashi will be feted as the director in focus at the Japan Now section of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will give a world premiere to his “Labyrinth of Cinema.” Supporting his art by shooting commercials, Obayashi is an indie whose dreamy works have influenced numerous other directors in [...]

  • Jimmi Simpson Joins Russell Crowe Movie

    Jimmi Simpson Joins Russell Crowe Thriller 'Unhinged' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jimmi Simpson will play a key role in “Unhinged,” Variety has learned. He joins an impressive cast that includes Oscar-winner Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius. Solstice Studios is producing the psychological thriller, which is currently filming in New Orleans. “Unhinged” centers on a woman named Rachel (Pistorius), who leans on her horn at the wrong [...]

  • David Crosby

    David Crosby Says New Documentary 'Remember My Name' Is Like 'Being Naked in Public’

    “It’s not easy. It’s hard being naked in public,” David Crosby, the legendary troubadour of classic rock, reflected at Tuesday night’s New York City premiere of “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” “I don’t know what to do here. There’s no guitars, no drums,” he laughed. Directed by newcomer A.J. Eaton and produced by the legendary [...]

  • Javier Bardem Dune

    Javier Bardem in Talks to Play King Triton in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Javier Bardem is in talks to play King Triton in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. Harry Styles is also in early talks to play Prince Eric. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content