Pascali’s Island

The first theatrical feature of James Deardenson of British filmmaker Basil Dearden and author of Fatal Attraction’s original screenplayis adapted from Barry Unsworth’s novel of the same name and set on a small Greek island in 1908, when the Ottoman Empire is crumbling. Basil Pascali (Ben Kingsley), an alienated Turkish spy, offers to lend his assistance as an interpreter for a British gentleman (Charles Dance) in negotiating a lease so that he can conduct archaeological studies on the pasha’s land. Nothing, however, is quite what it seems to be, and other figures on the islanda painter who lives in the Turkish quarter (Helen Mirren), a German munitions supplier, an American yachtsman, and othersthicken the atmosphere of intrigue and duplicity. Kingsley is at his best as the unhappy Pascali, through whose viewpoint the whole story is told in a rather Jamesian fashion; Roger Deakins (Stormy Monday) is the able cinematographer; and Dearden does a very effective job in telling this story with maximal impact. (JR)

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