We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
A few years ago there were stories in the papers about a couple of California kids who were caught selling government secrets to the Russians. The stories had an air of unreality about them. Here were a couple of middle-class young men from suburban backgrounds, who were prosecuted as spies and traitors and who hardly seemed to have it quite clear in their own minds how they had gotten into the spy business.
One of the many strengths of "The Falcon and the Snowman" is that it succeeds, in an admirably matter-of-fact way, in showing us exactly how these two young men got in way over their heads. This is a movie about spies, but it is not a thriller in any routine sense of the word. It's just the meticulously observant record of how naiveté, inexperience, misplaced idealism and greed led to one of the most peculiar cases of treason in American history.
The movie stars Timothy Hutton as Christopher Boyce, a seminarian who has a crisis of conscience, drops out of school and ends up working almost by accident for a message-routing center of the CIA. Sean Penn is his best friend, Daulton Lee. Years ago, they were altar boys together, but in recent times their paths have diverged; while Boyce was studying for the priesthood, Lee was setting himself up as a drug dealer. By the time we meet them, Boyce is earnest and clean-cut just the kind of young man the CIA might be looking for (it doesn't hurt that his father is a former FBI man).
And Lee, with a mustache that makes him look like a failed creep, is a jumpy, paranoid drug dealer who is one step ahead of the law.