My daughter The Novelist knows John le Carre’s work better than I do, though Doctor Wilson, the doctor who delivered her at Singapore’s Mount Alvernia Hospital, knew John le Carre himself, which always impressed me. She says that the new movie version of the novel «Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy” has two episodes which were not in the book [or at least not witnessed by any character in the book], and I think she’s right. In each episode, a woman is horribly murdered, by the Enemy (Russian spies in the service of spymaster Karla). In one episode a woman nursing a baby is (accidentally) shot through the head. You can almost see the headline: Spy Slays Toddler’s Mum! How the nursing mother is shot through the head is hard to understand: the spy (disguised as a waiter) who shoots her was aiming at a man who was running away in the other direction, or at least at ninety degrees to where she was sitting, which is a bit like aiming at someone running down the street in front of the car you are driving, and “accidentally” shooting the person in the passenger seat beside you. A: unnecessary, B: cheap, C: sordid.
So what’s new? The director was Tomas Alfredson, a Swede, and his earlier films include «Let the Right One In». Here is a very abbreviated version of Wikipedia’s plot outline of this horror-vampire flick:
The “hero”, Oskar, a meek 12-year-old boy, meets Eli, who appears to be a pale girl of his age. They share various adventures. Shortly after, Oskar figures out that Eli is a vampire and confronts Eli. Eli admits to being a vampire. Oskar is initially upset by this because Eli acknowledges needing to kill people to survive. Eli encourages Oskar to be “more like me…” [Later,] Jimmy (a bully) forces Oskar under the water, threatening to cut his eye out if he does not hold his breath for three minutes. While Oskar is underwater, however, there is commotion above the surface. Soon Jimmy’s severed head drops into the pool, followed shortly by the arm which had held Oskar down. Eli then pulls Oskar out of the water. Three dismembered bodies lie around the pool while Andreas, the reluctant fourth bully, sobs on a bench.
I had to stop reading here: I was laughing too much to go on.
So what if a woman nursing a baby is shot through the head in Tomas Alfredson’s latest movie? I think we were let off lightly. The Russian spies might have turned out to be vampires, and we were spared that much, at least.