This week at Royston Picture Palace: Spielberg’s spy thriller is a Cold War cracker, with a genuine cold

Tom Hanks stars in Bridge of Spies

Tom Hanks stars in Bridge of Spies - Credit: Archant

If you sadly succumbed to the sniffles or something more serious over the festive season – and let’s face it, you weren’t alone – then you’ll find it easy to identify with Tom Hanks in Bridge Of Spies.

America’s favourite everyman takes direction from Steven Spielberg in this Cold War thriller, based on a true story.

He plays a workaday insurance lawyer reluctantly roped in to defend a Soviet spy – Mark Rylance in mesmeric form – and making such a decent fist of it that he gets recruited by the CIA to take part in negotiations which will lead to the exchange of U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers and the aforementioned Russkie rascal.

With two such big stars sparking off each other, Spielberg calling the shots and a script shaped in part by the Coen brothers, the pedigree couldn’t be better.

And there are top notch performers in front of and behind the camera in every other department, too.

That means Bridge of Spies is a class act from start to finish, even if the subject matter is a little downbeat and lends itself to dialogue-heavy scenes rather than the pulse-quickening action that you’d find in a traditional thriller.

As for the sniffles, Hanks has never been much of a Method man when it comes to getting into his roles but the real-life laywer of the piece was apparently suffering from a stinking cold while he was beavering away in Berlin trying to thrash out a deal.

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Rylance’s runny nose is obviously catching, and Hanks has to make with the hankies – it’s the cold war, do you see what they’re doing here? – as he picks up the bug and undergoes some serious suffering.

There’s not a lot of acting involved, though – apparently he was struck down almost soon as he touched down in the German capital, and the sneezes kept coming throughout the location shoot.

It’s Rylance, still a rare sight on screen, who has won the plaudits, nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his understated role. The minimalist style, familiar to anyone who saw his TV turn in Wolf Hall, works well against the avuncular Hanks, and it’s an impressive double act.

The film itself has been nominated for Best Picture, too, as well as other awards – you can see for yourself whether it might be in with a chance at Royston Picture Palace on Friday and Saturday night, with performances starting at 7.30pm each evening.

Visit to book your tickets – and to stake your claim for a seat when Star Wars – The Force Awakens arrives the following weekend.