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The Pigeon Tunnel (2023)

The Pigeon Tunnel (2023)

PG-13

appletv

American docu giant Errol Morris's most self-reflexive documentary thus far

7.5

Movie

United Kingdom, United States of America
English
Documentary
2023
ERROL MORRIS
Charlotte Hamblin, Garry Cooper, John le Carré
92 min

TLDR

A detective novel is not that different from a documentary film, is it?

What it's about

Documentarian Errol Morris interviews English novelist and ex spy John le Carré about his life and career.

The take

You may not know the name of Errol Morris, but you must have seen either Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Night Manager, as films and TV have offered ripe adaptations of 20th century espionage novels under the disguise of simple entertainment. What you may not know is that the author of the books they are based on has been a spy himself, for most of his life. David John Moore Cornwell, better known as John le Carré (his pen name), is the subject of the latest work of detective-turned-filmmaker Errol Morris whose penchant for exploring the limits between fact and fiction has propelled the documentary form numerous times over the last decades. The film is a quasi-biographical doc with some exceptional reenactments that color Le Carré's own tales to try and outmanoeuvre the viewer's ceaseless desire to fix what one sees into either category: fact or fiction. With an ex-spy and a documentarian, you never know. 

What stands out

In The Pigeon Tunnel though, there is much more Errol Morris than one would expect. For once, we are always conscious that he is there, interviewing, and his questions become a part of the puzzle that is le Carré. An ex-detective meets an ex-spy and the levels are mutual suspicion rise up high; there is, however, little tension between them. Instead, their verbal sparring seems amicable and inviting, delightful almost, at odds with many of the political machinations and dubious actions le Carré recounts so openly. It's a fascinating film not only in terms of content (think: big secrets), but also in the way it bends the documentary form to make it interactive. 

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