Palestinian intelligence says she's loyal to their cause. Israeli counterintelligence says she's "bright, creative, underused, romantic and a liar." Academy Award winner Diane Keaton stars as Charlie, a repertory actress and Palestinian sympathizer who plays the role of - and for - her life when she's thrust onto the center stage of international espionage. Klaus Kinski and Yorgo Voyagis co-star as shrewd Israeli operatives who plot to use Charlie as bait to capture an elusive Palestinian terrorist (Sami Frey). Director George Roy Hill masterfully arranges the pieces of this cloak-and-dagger puzzle based on John le Carre's bestseller into a dazzling thriller racing full tilt through London, Munich, Athens, Jerusalem and Beirut. March to the enthralling beat of The Little Drummer Girl. 1984/color/130 min/R/mono/widescreen.
Espionage thrillers are not as easy to make as they seem. Their success generally lies in keeping the audience off-balance, in setting up twists and turns that come close to losing the audience but that at the last minute pull the audience back in. In order for this to work, all of the ingredients have to be just right -- a carefully-plotted screenplay can be damaged by a bad director, the wrong actor, or even poor set design or unimaginative cinematography. The Little Drummer Girl is a good thriller that could have been much better, had the elements been a little more aligned. The script is good, with the requisite thrills and hard-edged dialogue. But George Roy Hill's direction is just adequate, never making the material as exciting as it should be. More problematic is Diane Keaton, who does an acceptable job but is essentially miscast. Without the proper actress anchoring the film, it loses a great deal of believability. Fortunately, the rest of the cast is good, with Klaus Kinski exceptional, and the basic story is engrossing. Drummer Girl never shines, but it glimmers enough to make it worth watching. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi