There have been an awful lot of movies made not just about World War II but about the days leading up to it. So new angles can be hard to find. How about this: a Nazi girl’s school in a seaside town in England in the 1930s?
Such a place did exist: the Augusta Victoria College at Bexhill-on-Sea. Its school badge contained both a Union Jack and a swastika. It was here that daughters of the Nazi elite went for finishing. Out of this peculiar fact, Eddie Izzard, whose family hails from Bexhill, determined to forge a film; Izzard not only stars in “Six Minutes to Midnight” but is also one of the writers of the screenplay as well as an executive producer.
The scenario grafts a fictional Hitchcock-redolent suspense thriller to the reality of the school’s existence. “Midnight” opens with the disappearance of an instructor at the school, under sinister circumstances. Enter Izzard as Thomas Miller, come to replace him. Like his predecessor, Miller is a British spy really sent to gather intelligence on the school. While the activities of the students, their German instructor Ilse (Carla Juri) and their British headmistress (Judi Dench) seem on the up-and-up, pedagogy-wise, the environment nevertheless looks ripe for espionage. And when Miller witnesses the student body’s enthusiastic response to a speech by Adolf Hitler on the wireless, he figures the suspicions of his superiors are correct.
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Classified lists, a secret evacuation plan and a murder frame-up all come into play. The double-crosses are depicted by the director Andy Goddard with better-than-average craft, but the more the movie leans into old suspense conventions the more interest it loses, alas.
Six Minutes to Midnight
Rated PG-13 for violence. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.
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