The Spy

 

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Jens Jonsson’s film is an intriguing drama that uncovers some surprising truths.

 

Spy, The

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal

 

The name of Sonja Wigert probably means nothing to most people and certainly not to those likely to see Jens Jonsson’s dramatised biopic of a real woman whose life has been airbrushed out of history. Basing his film on Iselin Theien’s biography, Jonsson covers the real incidents in the life of the Norwegian actress and singer Sonja Wigert. As a popular figure touring both Scandinavia and Germany during World War II, she is initially only interested in furthering her own career.
 
However, Sonja (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) is approached by the Swedish authorities to spy on Germany in order to stop Hitler’s armies from invading Sweden in the way they had occupied Norway. At first she hesitates until she learns that her own family may be in jeopardy to the Nazis. Having installed herself in an all too physical relationship with Josef Terboven (Alexander Scheer), the German Reichskommissar, she is then asked by the Nazis to spy on Sweden too. As a real story The Spy has convincing elements of truth as well as conflicting views of how far one should go to save one’s family and indeed one’s own or any other country. Sonja’s life is further complicated by her love affair with Andor Gellért (Damien Chapelle), a Hungarian attaché spying on Germany.
 
It is an elegantly made film, evocative of the period, stylishly dressed and stunningly photographed, but shot mainly in what appears to be almost total darkness. Perhaps this is to emphasise the mystery and secrecy surrounding the world of espionage. As Sonja Wigert Ingrid Bolsø Berdal gives a beautiful Mata Hari-style performance, unfathomably poker-faced at most times, attractive and seemingly to be everything you want in a spy. As Josef Terboven, the German officer who even proposes marriage to Sonja, Alexander Scheer makes him as villainous as he can without bordering on stereotype. Damien Chapelle as the Hungarian lover Andor provides a firm basis for Sonja’s true beliefs.
 
It is easy to see why the story of Sonja Wigert is not well-known, as she was considered a traitor in her own country until long after her death in 1980. It wasn’t until 2005, when her papers were published, that the true story of The Spy was revealed.
 
Original title: Spionen.

 

MICHAEL DARVELL

 

Cast: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Rolf Lassgǻrd, Damien Chapelle, Alexander Scheer, Erik Hivju, Edvin Endre, Johann Widerberg, Gitte Witt.

 

Dir Jens Jonsson, Pro Karin Julsrud, Turid Ǿversveen and Hǻkon Ǿverǻs, Screenplay Harald Rosenlǿw-Eeg and Jan Trygve Rǿyneland, based on the book Sonja Wigert by Iselin Theien, Ph Anton Mertens, Pro Des Mikael Varhelyi, Ed Joakim Pietras, Music Raf Keunen, Costumes Ulrika Sjӧlin.

 
4 ½ Film/B-Reel Films/Nordisk Film/Film i Vast-TrustNordisk.
110 mins. Norway. 2019. Rel: 26 June 2020. Cert. 12.