Little Drummer Girl [1984]

Middle-eastern terrorism provides the dense, perpetually timely context of The Little Drummer Girl, loyally adapted from John Le Carré's complex bestseller. It's slow going at first, taking pains to establish the tragically complicated plight of Charlie (Diane Keaton), a left-wing, pro-Palestinian actress, recruited by Israeli intelligence in 1981 to play the role of a lifetime: Once her loyalties are turned, she will lure a dominant Palestinian terrorist (Sami Frey) into a deadly trap. She's an unwitting pawn, vulnerable to romance (particularly with her Israeli recruiter, played with subtle conviction by Greek-born Yorgo Voyagis), and Keaton brings sympathetic naiveté to her character's potentially lethal dilemma. Klaus Kinski is arguably miscast as the Israeli intelligence chief, but viewers are more likely to stumble over the film's constant flow of intricate detail. The Little Drummer Girl is not always easy to follow, but attentive viewers will be rewarded, and the plot itself is, sadly, as relevant as ever. --Jeff Shannon

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