Johnny Worricker (the inimitable Bill Nighy) dresses well, collects art and adores jazz. He invariably appears calm, cool and collected — but he’s always working. He’s been an MI5 agent since long before the close of the Cold War, and has learned to keep his observational skills perpetually operational. He’s been through numerous prime ministers and nearly as many wives. Through it all, he’s believed in the job, a career Johnny’s superior and oldest friend (Michael Gambon) calls “dishonourable work you could do in an honourable way.” But a top-secret document containing unsavoury revelations about torture and compromises made by Britain’s leader — along with an untimely death — will push Johnny’s professional abilities, as well as his integrity, to their limits.
Page Eight, the latest feature from acclaimed writer/director David Hare (whose screenwriting credits include The Reader and The Hours), is every bit the juicy, sophisticated political thriller, riddled with intrigue and wit. This is handled with seeming effortlessness not only by Nighy and Gambon, but also by supporting players Judy Davis, Ralph Fiennes (also featured in Coriolanus at this year’s Festival) and Rachel Weisz (who also appears in The Deep Blue Sea and the Gala presentation of 360). Weisz plays Johnny’s mysterious neighbour, whose sudden interest strikes Johnny as suspicious — yet as circumstances become increasingly desperate, she may also signal his salvation.
As the number of people Johnny can trust diminishes and his professional life becomes unmoored, he’s confronted by the growing rift between stubborn, old-school idealism and new-school cynicism. (He’s also preoccupied by the revelation that his daughter, to whom he rarely says the right thing, is pregnant.) Will Johnny become a whistle-blower or retreat for the sake of his livelihood (and, quite possibly, his life)? Will anyone believe him if he tells the truth about Downing Street’s complicity with American crimes? Page Eight stays very close to Johnny as he navigates precarious political terrain, and it keeps us guessing where that troublesome file will end up right until its very last shot. –TIFF
Sir David Hare (born 5 June 1947) is an English playwright and theatre and film director.
Hare was born in St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, East Sussex, the son of Agnes (née Gilmour) and Clifford Hare, a sailor. He was educated at Lancing, an independent school in West Sussex, and at Jesus College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, he was the Hiring Manager on the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club Committee, 1968.
Hare worked with the Portable Theatre Company from 1968 – 1971. His first play, Slag, was produced in 1970. He was Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre, London, from 1970–71, and in 1973 became resident dramatist at the Nottingham Playhouse, a major provincial theatre. In 1975, Hare co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Company with David Aukin and Max Stafford-Clark. Hare began writing for the National Theatre and in 1978 his play Plenty was produced at the National Theatre, followed by A Map of the World in 1983, and Pravda in 1985, co-written with… read more