The film, based on John le Carre's best-selling thriller
novel of the same name, is a tale of spies and terrorism, set in
Hamburg, Germany, a city that has been on high alert after the
9/11 hijackers planned their attack on America from there.
Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman plays German spy Gunther
Bachmann, a man driven by the shame of previous failure into an
obsessive pursuit of capturing terrorists by any means
Hoffman, 46, told Reuters at the film's premiere at the Sundance
Film Festival that he connected to a lot of Gunther's
personality, and believed the character would resonate with most
"I think it'd be hard for anyone not to connect with the
loneliness. He's pretty lonely, driven, obsessive guy,
unforgiving of himself in a lot of ways. A lot of traits that a
lot of people carry in one grade or another," Hoffman said.
Hoffman, who won a best actor Oscar in 2006 for "Capote," said
he wanted to do justice to the character that le Carre had
created, and "illuminate it in a way that hopefully is
The film follows the mysterious arrival in Hamburg of a
destitute Chechen-Russian immigrant named Issa (played by
Grigoriy Dobrygin), who lays claim to a large fortune in a bank
account with the help of an attractive human rights lawyer,
played by Rachel McAdams. Issa, a deeply religious Muslim man,
wants to donate the money to charities supporting the Islamic
Gunther and his team, who are investigating a company they
suspect have ties to terrorist groups, are alerted to Issa's
arrival and donation plans, and embark on a cat-and-mouse chase
to gain evidence of terrorist connections.
After the screening, Dutch director Corbijn told the audience he
was drawn to the contemporary nature of le Carre's story that
delved into the fears raised by the war on terror.
"I wanted to make something that was relevant to our lives after
9/11, and the way the world changed so quickly and judged people
so quickly, so black and white," Corbijn said.
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Early reviews of "A Most Wanted Man" from Sundance, the top U.S.
independent film festival, have been positive, with Variety chief
film critic Justin Chang calling it "meticulously plotted, steadily
Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter said the
film's "muted and subdued" plot may harm its commercial appeal in
theaters, but would attract intelligent viewers "who don't need
everything spelled out to them."
For McAdams, the role of German lawyer Annabel was a rare dramatic
turn after a catalog of romantic and comedic films such as "The
Notebook" and "Mean Girls."
Playing the character was "an opportunity to challenge myself,
stretch myself, with complicated people and issues," the actress
told the audience. "I like that I still have questions. I've seen
the movie and I was a part of it and I still wonder how I feel about
it all and I think that's very powerful and moving."
The film was shot against dramatic architecture and spaces in
Hamburg, a city Corbijn said he was drawn to for the aesthetic of
"My background is photography so I don't use studios, I work
outdoors, and I always use walls, walls are my favorite," he said.
"I look at architecture and Hamburg is a really interesting city ...
a lot of contrast. We erred on the more lower class areas, they
always have a little more texture."
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; editing by
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