SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT is a good, old fashioned, British spy thriller. I’m talking secret meetings, murder, double crosses, enemy agents, ticking countdowns: the whole lot. All set in a beautiful English coastal town, just on the edge of autumn.
It is so much fun.
It’s August, 1939. In a few day’s time, Germany will invade Poland. Britain will declare war on Nazi Germany. The world will be plunged into chaos, and it will not emerge for many years.
World War II is about to begin.
But none of that matters to the students of Augusta Victoria College. It’s a small finishing school for girls, in Bexhill-on-Sea. There’s the usual subjects: manners, music, walking with a book on your head for good posture.
It’s just like any other school, except these girls are German. In fact, they are the daughters and god daughters of Nazi high command. And so the moment war is declared, they will become enemies of the nation.
Things are very tense in Bexhill-on-Sea.
Oddly enough, this school actually existed. Opening in 1932, it was attended by Nazi girls until it closed in 1939. When the film says it’s ‘based on true events’, this is what they mean. Although honestly, that’s about where the truth begins and ends.
Enter English teacher and definitely-not-a-spy, Thomas Miller, played by Eddie Izzard.
With war on the horizon, Miller is sent to investigate the school. Are there plans to rescue the girls, and take them back to Germany? Is there a Nazi plot amongst the school supporters? What of the school headmistress, played to perfection by Judy Dench? Is she a loyal British subject, or an enemy agent?
Honestly, the casting in this film is top notch. We treated to an incredible battle-of-wills between Eddie Izzard and Judy Dench. And we get old Jim Broadbent smiling away as the town’s bus driver.
The women playing the young students are also wonderful. They are very convincing Nazi children, from their blonde braids, to the aerobics they perform with enthusiasm on the school lawn. It’s like something out of the Nuremberg Rally, and really quite horrid to watch.
SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT is Izzard’s first screenplay, co-written with Celyn Jones and film director Andy Goddard. I really hope she continues to write, because this plot is excellent. There’s so many twists, turns, and double crosses. It’s very complex, and really engaging.
So that’s SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. Exactly what it says on the label, great fun, and an oh-so-satisfying romp from start to finish. (7.5/10)