Somewhere in this starchy nose-in-the-air mess of a film, there is a good story waiting to be told, the story of a posh girl’s boarding school near London where daughters of Nazi officers are sent just before the outbreak of World War 2. No one knows that Nazi interests are being served right in the middle of Britain’s anti-Germany stance. So how did this schooling blunder happen? Six Minutes To Midnight has little to offer in the way of an explanation. It is too busy playing cloak-and-dagger with the true-life incident to give any serious attention to the political dimensions of the farfetched but true tale.
The film opens with the murder of a British agent who was trying to snoop around the school to get to gets to the bottom of its Nazi connections. The film’s hero Thomas miller(Eddie Izzard) then arrives as a spy masked as a teacher in the boarding school. No one seems to suspect his motives even when he sneaks around suspiciously, hides behind tables in offices containing incriminating documents. The atmosphere is supposed to be tense. All we sense is a kind of distant boredom brought on by the realization that the plot is self-evident to everyone except those who are in the middle of it.
Izzard’s academic espionage act is hardly entertaining. Judi Dench as the clueless principal of the school looks lost throughout, as though she had strayed into the wrong set. This is her second dud in arrow after Blithe Spirit. There at least she pretended to have fun with her crystal ball gazer’s zany part. Here as the clueless headmistress she moves around looking baffled all the time.
Was it because she was as dismayed by her decision to do this role as we are? Six Minutes To Midnight tries to build up into a nail-biting finale with a plane landing to take the girl to safety. Not once have we been allowed to feel any kind of empathy for these lost boarding school waifs. What was it like to be put in constant danger by their parents’ acts of inhumanity? These girls seem to have strayed into an embarrassing dead end with cops and detectives running around the boarding school searching for Hitler’s legacy. Jojo Rabbit was so much more fun. It didn’t take itself seriously.
Directed by Andy Goddard, Six Minutes To Midnight gets 1 and a half stars.
Image source: Youtube/TransmissionFilm