Watch Fellow Traveller
- 1 hr 30 min
Fellow Traveller, a political thriller film from 1990, directed by Phillip Saville and written by Michael Eaton, revolves around the story of a young and emerging British novelist, Guy Bennett (Hart Bochner), during the Cold War era in England in the 1950s. The movie is based on the play "Pravda" by David Hare and Howard Brenton, and it showcases an entertaining and dramatic story about politics, love, betrayal, and espionage, set against the backdrop of the epic struggle between the Western Bloc and the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II.
The film begins with the introduction of Guy Bennett, who is about to publish his first novel, and he is approached by a strange and mysterious American photographer, named "Kathleen" (Imogen Stubbs). She shows her interest in his work and invites him to a gathering of progressive intellectuals and communist sympathizers, which includes other leftist writers and artists. Guy finds himself fascinated by the charismatic leader of the group, a communist called "Brock" (Ron Silver), and gradually starts to fall under his influence.
As Bennett becomes a part of this group, he begins to have doubts about his own sexuality, and it is revealed through a series of flashbacks that Bennett had a tumultuous sexual relationship with a schoolmate during his teenage years. Brock reveals to Bennett that he knows about his sexual history and encourages him to keep his sexual preference a secret from others. Bennett becomes emotionally attached to Brock and begins to see him as his mentor, even though he is unaware of Brock's real identity and purpose.
As Bennett becomes more involved with the group, he is forced to take part in subversive activities to prove his loyalty to the cause, which includes passing information and documents to the Soviet Union. His life becomes increasingly complicated as he is torn between his loyalty to his country, his loyalty to the group, and his own conscience.
The film is executed with high-level performances from the lead cast, especially Ron Silver as Brock, who delivers a powerful portrayal of a charismatic and manipulative leader, and Hart Bochner as Guy Bennett, who impeccably portrays his character's complex emotional journey. Imogen Stubbs as Kathleen brings a mystique to her character as the ever-watchful and enigmatic American photographer.
The production design, by Andrew Sanders, and cinematography, by Chris Seager, brilliantly captures the essence of the 1950s era, creating a stylish and atmospheric visual style that perfectly serves the film's dark and intriguing story. The subtle use of flashbacks and narrative twist adds depth to the story, building a slow-burning tension throughout the film's runtime.
What makes Fellow Traveller stand out from other political thrillers of the time is its focus on the human drama and moral dilemma of its characters, rather than the political intrigue itself. It tells a compelling story about a young man's journey of self-discovery and his struggle with his own morality in a chaotic and dangerous political climate. It is a superbly crafted film that deserves greater recognition.
In conclusion, Fellow Traveller is a gripping and thought-provoking drama that entertains and challenges its audiences, and it especially succeeds through a sharp script, nuanced performances, and excellent filmmaking. It is an underappreciated gem of the 1990s that deserves a wider audience.
Fellow Traveller is a 1990 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.4.