Sometimes you just know when it’s right. Colonel Jean-François Mercier (David Tennant) knows it, right now in Poland 1939. It’s been 3 years since his beloved wife died of consumption like a flailing Brontë sister and he’s been treading water ever since – having loveless sex with some married Princess as he turds around Warsaw clandestinely playing espionage silly buggers, keeping tabs on Kraut military manoeuvres over the border. He and his kin are the Spies of Warsaw. Endless social events with military dignities and diplomats bore him shitless until one night his regular escort is replaced by League of Nations lawyer Anna Skarbek (Janet Montgomery). She’s young, clever and pretty – a lovely French Polak pie combination. Let’s not asshat around – he wants to tear that pumpum down quick but as Rick Blaine from Casablanca, Count Al Marshy¹ from The English Patient and countless others will testify The Second World War was the biggest cockblock ever devised by mankind.
Fortunately for the Colonel it doesn’t yet exist but his investigations are making him pessimistic. He runs Olga Musser (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen last seen as Pernille, She of the Dead Daughter, in The Killing series 1) as a kind of keep-’em-sweet honey trap to keep a Mister Bronson from Grange Hill looking motherfucker Edvard Uhl (Ludger Pistor) coming up with the info goods. Uhl is senior engineer of tank design for the Germans and the changes in tank policy he reveals lead Mercier to believe that the Hun may not just be planning to bust a move on Poland but also aiming to slam through the forests in Belgium and into France. Aha! Thanks, Uhl.
“Let’s not asshat around – he wants to tear that pumpum down quick but as Rick Blaine from Casablanca, Count Al Marshy¹ from The English Patient and countless others will testify The Second World War was the biggest cockblock ever devised by mankind.”
For some reason Olga finds it endlessly hilarious that she is exploiting a man’s weakness for pussy and conning him into risking torture and death. Incredibly pleased with herself too like she’s some kind of sexual genius for seducing Uhl, as if horny ugly men were the uncharted final frontier for almost attractive fake Countesses. Pride comes before a fatal garrotting for Olga though as Kraut spooks surprise her at her apartment with a bunch of flowers, a bottle of Dr Pepper and some piano wire. They have not come to tune the harpsichord. Uhl himself is lucky to escape with his life after his abduction and it’s starting to look like this Mercier is a dangerous guy to know.
“Tennant is a good complex upscale Frog, palps disconnected from the day-to-day since his wife died and searching for purpose in a world that denies him any.”
He’s got a point about the Germans invading France though, a point further underlined when he films the Bosch doing tank manoeuvres in the forest. Military brass ain’t trying to hear that though which he basically finds incredibly vexing. He’d like to take out his frustration on Anna’s vagina but it is currently in the possession of Maxim Mostov (Piotr Baumann) a shitty no account exiled Russian literary journalist. Anna and her fanny feel loyal to Max because without the two of them he’s essentially alone in the world and also: he’s Russian. Anna and the Colonel eventually fuck on a train like that other great couple Charles and Diana in their disgracefully inept² set-to on the Royal Train before their engagement. Can Mercier win his personal war by disentangling Anna’s clam from the steely clasp of Maxim? And will anyone take his relentless gasbagging over the imminent German invasion of France seriously?
Watch and find out, my friends³ for this classy two-part adaptation of Alan Furst’s novel from Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais will command your attention. Tennant is a good complex upscale Frog, palps disconnected from the day-to-day since his wife died and searching for purpose in a world that denies him any. He finds what he’s looking for in the eyes and between the legs of Anna and will do whatever it takes to burrow ears deep into that pumpum. Wars will always throw up handsome soulful soldiers mooning over dead wives and they are easy prey for absurdly hot Frenchwomen looking for a way out from relationshits with overbearing Russian writers they have foolishly shacked up with. It’s a strange story, often sad, good on the ambiguities of war and the impossible choices it forces people to make. Mercier searched for German treachery and found instead a sexually attractive girlfriend. He should quit while he’s ahead.
The verdict on Spies of Warsaw: Pie in the house of love.
Marks out of 10: 8
¹ If you recognise this reference to Black Pele, forerunner of Aerial Telly, then he would like to send you a pound and a bear hug.
² How does Aerial Telly know it was disgracefully inept? Motherfucker because Aerial Telly BIN knowing about this shit for years. A socially backward virgin used to practically no contact with the opposite sex? I imagine Diana was pretty nervous as well.
³ Dive into a dormant volcano filled with the severed cocks of your ancestors, skunks. You are not Aerial Telly’s “friends”.