John Le Carré set his spy novel A Most Wanted Man in Hamburg, where he had lived when he worked for the British intelligence services and later as consul. Hamburg is also the city where Le Carré wrote The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, a key work in the genre. Dutch director Anton Corbijn produced an austere, slow movie that is notable for its use of real locations –the grey Hamburg of the harbour– and the presence of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as a disillusioned German secret agent, in what would be his last film appearance.

If The Spy… was set during the Cold War, A Most Wanted Man takes place in the slippery “war against terror” that began after 9/11. And if there’s something clear in both the novel and the movie it’s that this is a dirty war where anything goes. The powerful final scene of the film takes place in front of the Brahms Kontor building, but the important encounter –between lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) and banker Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe)– plays out in the luxurious bar of the Hotel Atlantic, a five-star establishment that dates from 1909 and is located in front of Lake Alster.


TITLE: A most wanted man (2014)

DIRECTOR: Anton Corbijn

WRITERS: Andrew Bovell (Novel: John Le Carré)


CAST: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe