Movie Review

A Call to Spy (2019)

A Call to Spy (2019) is yet another wartime film about the heroic deeds of unassuming people during World War II. It chronicles the story of two civilians recruited by a new secret agency of the British to be sent as spies to German-occupied France. What makes the film different is that the protagonists are women and they don’t do action sequences, yet the film was highly engaging. It is available in Amazon Prime Video.

Stana Katic who comes as Vera Atkins is the secretary to the head of the new secret service and she is tasked with recruiting women for being sent as spies & wireless operators to France. Being a jew herself, she is highly motivated to aid in the success of the British because of her need to get British Citizenship. She is able to select perfect candidates like Virginia Hall  (Sarah Megan Thomas), an American, and Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Apte), a talented wireless operator, and persuades them to take on the risky task. The two women perform remarkably, aiding greatly the war of the British agents efforts against the Nazis.

In 2020 almost anyone today has access to numerous channels of instant communication to anywhere in the world, some even securely for those who need to, so it is difficult for us to understand the rudimentary wireless communications of the 1940s that were completely unsafe. Whenever a (spy) wireless operator messages from say France to London, it was relatively easy for the Gestapo to deduct the transmission, and the location to then arrest the person, which often meant torture followed by public execution. So, apart from the typical dangers associated with being spies, the brave souls had to operate the heavy and large wireless gadgets (certainly easy to conceal) with the constant fear of being discovered.

Whether it is the process of their selection, recruitment, training, deployment in the field, or the tough times they face, I liked the way the screenplay didn’t dwell on any one incident, instead, it keeps moving and we are able to understand the untold. Both Sarah Megan Thomas and Radhika Apte have done their roles well, with Sarah Megan getting more screentime due to the story. A fine movie to watch this holiday season with your family (it is a war film so not for young kids).

(from left) Radhika Apte and Sarah Megan Thomas - A Call to Spy
(from left) Radhika Apte and Sarah Megan Thomas – A Call to Spy
As Virginia Hall, Sarah Megan Thomas - A Call to Spy
As Virginia Hall, Sarah Megan Thomas – A Call to Spy

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