Another Country

 (229)7.11 h 30 min198413+
Based on the life of the young Guy Burgess, who would become better known as one of the Cambridge Spies.
Marek Kanievska
Rupert EverettColin FirthCary Elwes
English [CC]
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Shout! Factory
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4.2 out of 5 stars

229 global ratings

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  2. 23% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 13% of reviews have 3 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

D. LarsonReviewed in the United States on October 10, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Too Beautiful to Live?
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Rupert Everett and Cary Elwes and Colin Firth really were just about too beautiful to be believed back in ’84. These dewy-eyed preternaturally perfect boys lolling about seductively, batting their lush lashes while indolently arranging themselves on couches, sipping champers, drawling in upper class accents. So many handsome young men making cow eyes at each other, kind of makes you wonder how the British upper classes managed to reproduce with (ahem) women.

If they did. In “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, John le Carre’s fictionalized retelling of the Cambridge spy ring, le Carre has the old Russia hand Connie Sachs muse about all of those privileged scions of the upper crust, boys who went through Eton and Cambridge, raised to rule an empire. And then the empire was gone, and what now? Kim Philby was one of those; Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt….why did so many of the best and brightest become traitors?

If we go by “Another Country”, it’s maybe because the English public school system produced so many closeted embittered men, fed up with the hypocrisy of a system in which the richest and most useless sent their sons to live in a posh concentration camp atmosphere ruled by incompetents, sadists and predators. And then required the survivors remain silent afterwards. Maybe so. The current leadership of Britain doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence about the quality of the public school system’s products. Perhaps the mechanics of leading a hidden life in 1930’s homophobic England made Burgess practiced at concealing his allegiances in other matters. Or maybe we (and “Another Country”) are reading too much into this part of Burgess’ life. As le Carre put it about another agent, some men love being traitors. Always being the smartest, most clever, always knowing that one thing no one else in room suspects.

“Another Country” looks great, and the actors (if seeming kind of old to be in prep school) are a testament to the quality of Britain’s acting classes. Those English do make consistently good acting talent. For a shortish movie, the pacing is as languid as Everett’s elegant manners and the drama understated to the point that this viewer would’ve liked a car chase or explosion to lighten up the proceedings.

But, it’s hard to be too critical about a movie that actually does try to deal with some big issues and does that in a cinematic way. Set dressing, clothes, music, it’s all quality stuff. Makes “Downton Abbey” look cheap and tawdry. Whether “Another Country” is anything biographical about Guy Burgess, I’ve no idea. It is kind of ironic that he spied for Stalin’s USSR, a nation that, had he been a gay Russian rather than a treasonous Brit, have shipped him off to the Gulag or worse. But the heart wants what it wants, doesn’t it? In “Another Country”, our protagonist wants Cary Elwes and Colin Firth, Colin Firth wants a communist utopia, and Stalin wants to plant agents in the heart of British Intelligence.

If you’re looking for anything historical about the Cambridge spies, “Another Country” isn’t that. Maybe an origin story, a prequel to the main event. But, nicely acted by guys who might have asked, like Derek Zoolander did, “if there is more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?”
24 people found this helpful
Greg A ChristensenReviewed in the United States on December 3, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
A very complex subject at a very complex time
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This is actually a pretty good movie for the acting and directing. Suffers from idealism unfortunately. Intertwining communism and gayness is a bit much, but this man really was both. I think the movie suffers from making him too much of a protagonist. It is not lost on the viewer that environmental factors can lead to gay behavior, not just genetics; and the movie fights this fact even while wanting to portray it's reality. It is no coincidence that the Spartans trained in the agoge from a young age and had an extremely high rate of homosexuality, one that was fully accepted. Likewise, in such a harsh climate of authoritarianism, it is no wonder the inexperienced mind can fantasize about an idealistic communism. They are too young to realize that it is just trading for another form of authoritarian rule. This took place in 1935, just before the Great Purge of The Baltics.; I wonder how feelings about communism and Stalin changed in young idealistic minds after just a few short years.
4 people found this helpful
joanReviewed in the United States on August 4, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Well done
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This is really a very touching story. Wonderful Rupert Everett and Colin Firth (as always). If this is factually based I don't blame Burgess for rebelling against his own class. He thought of these people as a bunch of snotty superior toffs & he was right. He felt that HE was rejected by THEM, not the other way around. And he was. The British schools like Eton and Harrow and Cambridge raise a society of young men who are educated to BE superior to everyone else. And it was even more obvious in the 1930's. Burgess wanted to get back at that system and the way he did it was to betray them. People accused Franklin Roosevelt of being a "traitor to his class" in his presidency, because he evolved into the same kind of man Burgess became, by rejecting the exclusion f so many parts of American society and made it his goal to help the working man. But FDR, while his reasons may have been similar to Burgess's, became a force for good. Burgess could have worked in his life to change the views on homosexuals in Britain. But he was too consumed with revenge and bitterness to become the man FDR became. They both grew to be "traitors to their class" But this was really a wonderful film with wonderful performances.
5 people found this helpful
Peter S. BradleyReviewed in the United States on May 9, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Why the Oxford Spy Ring betrayed everyone they knew is a mystery that this movie does not clear up.
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Another Country with Colin Firth

I watched this out a curiosity with Communism in the 1920s/1930s. I understood that this movie was about the Oxford Spy Rings' school years. I've read a few books on Kim Philby and Whittaker Chambers, so I wondered how this movie would treat the subject of British aristocrats cravenly betraying their families, friends, and country to a murderous totalitarian despotism.

The first important point about this movie is that it was made in 1984 at the height of the Reagan years. So, the West's intelligentsia was not about to depict Communists in a particularly bad light. The watchword of the period was that Communists were still idealists and that people who were attracted to mass-murdering totalitarians had their hearts in the right places.

The center piece of this movie is Rupert Evans as Guy Bennett, who is obviously the stand-in for Guy Blunt, the member of the Oxford Spy Ring at the top of the British diplomatic services. Colin Firth is his openly Communist friend Tommy Judd. Judd is not a pastiche of any of the traitors, and in this movie, Judd dies heroically fighting fascists in the Spanish Civil War, but that is disclosed only at the end by an aging Bennett in Moscow.

An interesting feature of this movie is how young its now famous male leads - Firth, Evans, Cary Elwes - are. I could barely discern the mature actors I'm familiar with in these boys in their early 20s. The voices and mannerisms we know from decades later are starting to take shape, however.

Bennett is a homosexual. As a homosexual he is tolerated, but he chooses to use his homosexual trysts with members of the "Gods" - the older boys who manage the houses of the school - in order to get out of much deserved punishment. Because of his poor deportment, such as deliberately showing up for inspection in a disheveled state in order to cost their house a prize and carrying on an open homosexual affair after a younger boy has committed suicide for being caught in a homosexual tryst, Bennett is denied his cherished dream to become a "God." He realizes that his homosexuality - which he didn't choose will keep him from the gold ring of British society, so at the end of the movie he takes an interest in this Communism stuff that his friend Judd has spent the movie spouting.

Firth is the Communist who goes around railing against upper-class Britain, the rules of the upper-class school he attends, and patriotism. He holds Stalin up as a heroic figure trying to single-handedly bring Russia into the modern world. No mention is made of show trials or mass starvations.

The movie is beautifully filmed and written. It keeps one's interest, but the ideological justification of treason on persecution of homosexuality among a upper-class culture that clearly tolerated homosexuality is a bit much. The movie came across as a bit of propaganda for a dead cult, particularly at the end when it was implied that Bennett/Burgess's betrayal was done out of friendship and to spite those hypocrites that "wrongfully" denied him his just dues.

I think that then is the cinematographic problem with the movie. The characters were not empathetic. I didn't particularly identify with spoiled upper-class children and citing "oppressed homosexual" didn't substitute for a likable and engaging character.

Why the Oxford Spy Ring betrayed everyone they knew is a mystery that this movie does not clear up.
F. ThysReviewed in the United States on May 20, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A classic
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Outstanding cast led by Colin Firth and Rupert Everett. A great love story set in an English boarding school. The attention to detail depicting the lives of boys at the school in the 1930s is remarkable. Great dialogue, it's obvious the movie is an adaptation of a play. At the heart of it is the origin story of Guy Burgess, the upper-class Englishman who would go on to become one of the most famous spies of the twentieth century. This story attempts to explain why he turned against a society that had only contempt for him, and why he was won over to the ideals of his Communist classmate.This movie, made in 1984, is groundbreaking in its defense of gay people and its denunciation of homophobia at a time when gay people were still very much persecuted and afraid to tell people who they really were.
One person found this helpful
HopefulConsumerReviewed in the United States on May 2, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
"no commies and no queers . . ."
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Fictional dramatization of 1930s English boys' boarding school romance and repression that planted the seeds among some young aristocrats to later commit espionage against their country on behalf of the Soviet Union. Based on a stage play, the script is at turns vicious and charming, but always literate, always smart. Fine performances from all the young actors, some who went on to brilliant careers. The film works a bit of a miracle: makes us care about the central self-absorbed young dandy and his ambitions to rise in the hierarchy of his school as stepping stone to rising in the hierarchy of his privileged class.
Russell SReviewed in the United States on November 17, 2014
4.0 out of 5 stars
Another Country in another time and still oppressive.
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3 of my favorite British actors all on one screen at the same time. Made in 1984 this beautiful period piece explores the social mores of an elite British boys school in 1932.Guy, Rupert Everett, is gay and knows it and embraces it. he is infatuated by Cary Elwes and his feelings are returned. Guy's best friend, Colin Firth is a devout Marxist. Most of the times the school looks the other way until a young man is caught with another young man and due to the persecution he hangs himself. The spotlight is on and now the very rigid code of conduct comes into play. Superbly acted, superbly paced, beautiful to look at and just overall wonderful, if not sad at times. Rupert Everett looked like he was having the time of his life doing this film. Bravo.
15 people found this helpful
Emile NelliganReviewed in the United States on July 7, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Extraordinary film! Extraordinary story!
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Excellent film, brilliantly acted. Would love to read the original play to compare the two works.

Rupert Everett is perfect in the role of Guy who after the events of this film became a drunken spy who defected to the USSR.

My only disappointment is that we never find out what became of the underclass man lover well played by Cary Elwes.

Don’t miss this one!
3 people found this helpful
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