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(...)The classy contributions of a cadre of Brits also brighten Enigma, a World War II thriller that counts Mick Jagger as one of its producers. Tom Stoppard's sleek, intelligent script (adapted from a novel by Robert Harris) is one of the movie's chief pleasures.

Stoppard has woven an intricately structured mystery that begins in 1943, as a group of English code-breakers struggle to crack a new cipher introduced by German U-boats preying on the Allies. The action is interrupted by flashbacks detailing the love affair of the chief code-breaker (Dougray Scott) and a mysterious coworker (Saffron Burrows) who has disappeared.

As the film jumps back and forth in time, it eventually reveals layers of duplicity among the English, the Germans, and the Russians who are trying to conceal their own roles in the massacre of a contingent of Polish soldiers. Based on historical events, the film acknowledges the moral ambiguity of war (even a "just" war like World War II).

The "enigma" of the title refers not just to the German code but to the character that Burrows plays, a secret agent whose motivations are finally impenetrable. Stoppard sagely suggests that the complexities of the political arena derive from the stubborn complexities of human nature.

©Movieline - May 2002

[ Contributed by SUZEE ]

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