The Pigeon Tunnel (2023) Movie Review – A fascinating insight into an extraordinary man

A fascinating insight into an extraordinary man

John le Carré is an endearing character and has undoubtedly led a fascinating life. A former member of MI5 and MI6, David Cornwell adopted his Le Carre name and became a spy, whilst simultaneously writing spy novels. These books would go on to become bestsellers, with timeless classics like “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “A Perfect Spy” to name a few. 

AppleTV’s latest documentary clearly takes inspiration from Le Carré’s 2016 autobiography “The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life”. Clocking in at around 90 minutes, the film breaks down Le Carré’s life from childhood to his time within the agency, and everything in between.

At one point, there’s a really fascinating interview with Le Carré where he mentions betrayal, done under the guise of a story involving a cat and a mat. It’s a small moment in the film but a revealing one to understand his psyche and what drives this man. Le Carré is a natural storyteller, and hearing him discussing key moments in his life, alongside archival footage from the time, is definitely one of the stand-out moments of this.

The title of the film, Pigeon Tunnel, is also explained, and although there is a constant motif of pigeons being shown, it does become a bit overkill by the time the film ends. There’s a fine line between a visual cue and overkill, and this film does overstep that mark on a few occasions.

However, that’s a big nit-pick in the grand scheme of things because the film has some excellent titbits of information and is gripping from start to finish. The exploration of Le Carré’s relationship with his father, alongside his literary work and time as a spy all weave together into a colourful tapestry of intrigue and extraordinary whimsical prose. And that’s perhaps the best way to describe this one.

As mentioned before, Le Carré is a natural storyteller and even when the camera hangs on him inside his study, answering questions from Director Errol Morris, John Le Carré will captivate you with his stories. This is a very good documentary and whether you’re familiar with Le Carré’s history or not, The Pigeon Tunnel is well worth a watch.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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