Six Minutes to Midnight is a classic British spy thriller

‘Slow burn’ thriller set amid the gathering storm clouds of WW2

A new spy thriller coming to Luna Cinemas, Six Minutes to Midnight, tells the story of a group of German schoolgirls attending a finishing school in Southern England just before the outbreak of World War Two.
With tensions growing between Britain and Germany, the girls are in danger and their headmistress Miss Rocholl (Dame Judi Dench) appears blissfully unaware of their peril.
They say truth is stranger than fiction, and it is even more remarkable that the Augusta-Victoria College in Bexhill-on-Sea really did exist in England between 1932 and 1939.
Attended by the daughters and goddaughters of senior Nazi officials, such were its Nazi sympathies that the Nazi insignia was even woven into the school crest and proudly emblazoned for all to see.
As members of ‘Hitler’s League of German Girls’, the well-drilled students get little chance to shine, with only a few really standing out: the bossy Astrid (Maria Dragus) and timid Gretel (Tijan Marei).
The film begins with Miss Rocholl actively recruiting a new teacher for the girls after the old one died suddenly in suspicious circumstances.
Somewhat naïve, Miss Rocholl is English but a Nazi sympathiser, and she seems quite impressed with the new applicant Thomas Miller (played by quirky English comedian Eddie Izzard), who is half-German and speaks the language fluently.
After offering him the job on a trial basis, Miller embraces his new job wholeheartedly, but soon finds himself embroiled in a secret German plot to reveal the identities of English spies and operatives in Nazi Germany.
At a dinner party held by the finishing school and attended by some high-level German dignitaries, Miller seeks to circumvent the plot by finding and secretly photographing some relevant documents.
But he is discovered, and this leads to murder and mayhem later in the film.
A ‘slow burn’ classic British spy movie, Six Minutes to Midnight, does have its shortcomings, with Izzard appearing at times, slightly miscast in such a deadly serious role.
Dench also never really comes out of her shell.
The great Jim Broadbent, however, does give a heart-warming cameo as bus driver Charlie: a heroic character who tries to help Miller escape.
English actor James D’Arcy also gives a solid performance as the smooth Captain Drey, who attempts to take Miller into custody.
Despite some failings, Six Minutes to Midnight is worth watching though, with real tension created as the girls attempt to flee England via plane at night pursued by the authorities.
Co-written and produced by Izzard – who incidentally is a native of Bexhill-on-Sea –
Six Minutes to Midnight starts on Thursday April 22 at Luna Leederville, Luna on SX
and Windsor Cinemas.

By Mike Peeters

Six Minutes to Midnight is a classic British spy thriller
Six Minutes to Midnight is a classic British spy thriller

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