I still find it painful to talk or write about Philip Seymour Hoffman — no celebrity passing in the last couple of years has hit me quite as hard as his, and I know that goes for many of us. So rewatching Anton Corbijn's “A Most Wanted Man” is going to be a strangely melancholy experience, not least because it's as strong a reminder as anything of what cinema has lost: as a rumpled German intelligence agent weary of post-9/11 paranoia, the actor gives one of his finest lead turns.
I called his performance “a thing of wily, weathered beauty” at the film's Sundance premiere, mere weeks before Hoffman's death; viewed after the fact, the sense of palpable exhaustion he brings to the character may seem morbidly poignant. The film itself is rather special, too: a worthy companion piece, of sorts, to fellow John Le Carré adaptation “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” with Hoffman's Guther Bachmann a kind of contemporary European cousin of Gary Oldman's George Smiley.
Roadside Attractions are releasing the film on July 25, though I wonder if they have any awards-season ambitions for it. (They've gone the distance before with a Sundance-premiered summer release, namely “Winter's Bone” in 2010.) Hoffman's performance struck me as worthy of recognition at first sight, though posthumous campaigns don't always take off. Either way, it's a fine farewell — if not quite a final one, with his work in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” still ahead. Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think.