Review: WWII drama 'A Call to Spy' reveals the role of Britain's women spies in France

Stana Katic as ‘Vera Atkins’ in Lydia Dean Pilcher’s A CALL TO SPY. An IFC Films Release (Photo: IFC)

A Call to Spy
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Lydia Dean Pilcher
Writer: Sarah Megan Thomas
Starring: Sarah Megan Thomas, Stana Katic, Radhika Apte
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rated: PG-13 for some strong violence, disturbing images, language and smoking

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Synopsis: Early in World War II, Britain quickly realized that they needed more spies in France. With soldiers already in low supply, Churchill orders his spy agency to recruit and train women.

Review: There are so many incredible stories from World War II that I often wonder why we bother making films that aren’t rooted in real events. Thankfully, “A Call to Spy” is based the true story of Virginia Hall (played by Sarah Megan Thomas, who also wrote the screenplay), an American who had dreams of becoming a diplomat for the United States Foreign Service but was repeatedly turned down due to her gender and her wooden leg.

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Hall is recruited by Vera Atkins (Stana Katic), a Romanian-born British intelligence officer who is viewed with suspicion because of her Jewish heritage. Atkins also enlists Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Apte), a wireless operator with an Indian-Muslim father.

Atkins sees Hall as the perfect agent. Being American she could pose as a journalist, a fantastic cover until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Following the attack, Hall moves locations, assumes a new identity. Khan is simply the best switchboard operator she’s ever seen.

History remembers all three as heroes, but Hall, Khan, and Atkins were subjected to a mixture of antisemitism, sexism and racism from their fellow soldiers. Still, they served.

“A Call to Spy” is filled with twists and betrayals. It also features incredible bravery, compassion and trust. It’s smaller, less bombastic than the D-Day invasion or the Dunkirk retreat. It’s still an incredibly important story. I appreciate the opportunity to learn it.

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