six minutes to midnight
director: Andy Goddard (set fire to the stars)
starring: eddie izzard, judi dench, james d'arcy and jim broadbent
REVIEWER: lyall carter
UK, Aug. 15, 1939: 17 days before WWII, an English teacher and his camera disappear on a coastal boarding school with 20 German teen girls. Miller gets the job 6 days later, secretly trying to find out what happened.
In the lead up to ANZAC weekend with the dawn services and poppy wearing ahead of us, there is nothing quite like heading off to the cinema to watch a film set amidst the WWII era. While Six Minutes to Midnight hits some pacing speed bumps, it’s still a solid, entertaining WWII flick stacked with an all star British cast and an intriguing, untold story.
In the summer of 1939, school teacher Thomas Miller (Eddie Izzard) takes a last minute role teaching English at the Augusta-Victoria College, Bexhill-on-Sea, a finishing school on the south coast of England. Despite the political storm clouds forming across Europe, daughters of influential families in Nazi Germany learn deportment, Shakespeare and how to be faithful members of Hitler’s League of German Girls.
Under the watchful eye of their headmistress Miss Rocholl (Dame Judi Dench), and her devout assistant Ilse Keller (Carla Juri), help the girls practice their English and learn how to represent the ideal of German womanhood. With a new world war imminent and a fog of resentment surrounding their presence, youth’s summer is running out for the girls and for everyone. When the body of a former teacher is discovered, it triggers a sequence of deadly events where the girls and Miss Rocholl discover a world where loyalty is more important than truth.
When it comes to WWII films I always find it fascinating when a filmmaker comes at it from another, otherwise unknown angle. The true story of a German finishing school based in England when the clouds of war hung heavy is one such story angle. From this base the filmmakers have crafted a film filled with espionage and intrigue that will thoroughly entertain.
However there are times when the pacing of the film is a little off especially when Izzard’s Miller is on the run from the police in some form of 39 Steps homage. There are also some characters that are not fully fleshed out and with the actors that they have in those roles, some character development is more than deserved.
Another trick that Six Minutes to Midnight has up its sleeve is the cast. Izzard has always been one of those stars that commands the screen or stage and here is no exception. Judi Dench is always a wonder to behold and adds some more acting prowess to the cast.
While Six Minutes to Midnight hits some pacing speed bumps, it’s still a solid, entertaining WWII flick stacked with an all star British cast and an intriguing, untold story.