Red Joan (2018) Movie Review

Director: Trevor Nunn

Writer: Lindsay Shapero (Screenplay) Jennie Rooney (Novel)

Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Nina Sosanya, Laurence Spellman, Nicola Sloane, Tereza Srbova, Freddie Gaminara, Tom Hughes, Stephen Campbell Moore

Plot: The story of Joan Stanley (Dame Judi Dench), who was exposed as the K.G.B.’s longest-serving British spy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: So Dull

Story: Red Joan starts when elderly lady Joan (Dench) gets arrested with the suspicion of treason for release secrets over years, since 1939, to 2000. This takes Joan back to her younger self (Cookson) who met people in her time at Oxford, including Sonya (Srbova) and Leo (Hughes) who put her in connection with a KGB connection.

After university Joan starts working for Max (Campbell Moore) who has been development nuclear weapons, a role she must keep secret, despite the number of people that came looking to get secrets out of her including her love Leo and former student William.

Thoughts on Red Joan

Characters – Joan is an elderly lady arrested and charged with treason, she must remember her life which saw her working on England’s own nuclear defence, while being friends with Russians, making it appear like she might have been playing both side, she must tell her story to see if she is guilty or not. Leo is the Russian that Joan has fallen in love with, he only turns up when she needs something, making it clear that he is trying to learn more about her role, using his charm to get information. Max is the person that hires Joan, gives her a chance in a male world of science to show her own brilliance, he will push for her greatest to be seen by the world.

PerformancesJudi Dench does seem wasted in this role, she does her best with what little she has to work with, it just would have been nice to see more. When it comes to the rest of the cast, they all struggle to make any impact in the story.

StoryThe story here follows an elderly lady accused of treason and dive into her past to learn the truth. This sounds like it should be a very interesting thriller, but soon turns into a romantic based movie, which seems to imply that Joan only helped the people who she seems to love, it has so much potential to be a much more interesting story, only for it to come up very short and just being bland and forgettable.

BiopicThe biopic side of the film is meant to show what happened in Joan’s early life only for it to be more about her love life than anything else.

SettingsThe film does re-create the locations that you would have imagined seeing for the 40s and 50s timeline.


Scene of the Movie – Press Conference.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much pointless love.

Final Thoughts This is a really disappointing biopic thriller that just doesn’t get close to the levels it could do, leaving us feeling like we should be getting a lot more out of the material.

Overall: Disappointing.