A Perfect Spy (1987)
When you are expecting your first child everyone tells you to go to the cinema a lot because once you have a baby you never will. And I always thought "Why not? Just get a babysitter."
And then I actually had a baby, nine months ago now, and I realise why. It's because early showings of films clash with bath-and-bedtime, and later screenings are too late for tired parents. ("So if the programme says 9pm, the film will start at 9.30 and it's two hours long. That means we won't be in bed until … midnight?! Forget it.") Lucky ones can scrabble around on pay-per-view for something that was in cinemas six months ago, but most parents are years behind everyone else when it comes to new releases.
• Download the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy audio book for free
Adapting a novel for the cinema presents unique problems – it's not at all the straightforward process people assume, particularly if the novel is as complex and cerebral as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The screenwriters of this exceptionally fine and sombre new dramatisation of the novel (Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O'Connor) have perfectly reflected its labyrinthine world of bluff and counter-bluff, of suspicion and paranoia, of corruption and betrayal.
Betrayal is the novel's and the film's great theme – and perhaps the dark undercurrent beneath all of John Le Carré's work. Indeed one might claim that, among the few things we British are very good at – cricket, bespoke tailoring, dictionaries – is the spy novel. Possibly this
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