Based in part on the lives of Eleanor Philby and British spy Kim Philby (1912-1988), "A Different Loyalty" is an odd and partially successful mixture of spy novel, history, and romance.
Rupert Everett plays Leo Cauffiled (the metaphor for Kim Philby, who was said to be among the most successful double agents of the Cold War) and Stone plays wife Sally. The story begins in Beirut where the pair meet, romance, Sally divorces her diplomat husband, and the pair marry. They enjoy happiness until Leo defects.
When Sally discovers Leo has been a double agent working for the Russians, she ignores the advice of American authorities and joins him in Moscow. The film takes mostly dark and ill turns afterward, and the ending is neither preidctable, satisfying, nor pleasant. The postlude indicates Leo stayed a Soviet until his death in 1988.
This movie is a lot like a made for TV flick in its first hour. Many of the events played out over time -- such as Sally's attraction to Leo and her subsequent affair with him, then leaving her husband to marry him -- transpire in only 1-2 scenes of only a couple minutes' duration. This is one of the film's great weaknesses -- its superficial presentation of the lives of its main subjects.
The great strength in Stone's multidimensional performance as wife, sexpot, mistress, mother, ex-wife, searcher, and household beacon. She is completely credible in every role and creates empathy for her tortured persona as she first searches for her wayward husband, then finds him, then is tormented by his decision to choose Communism over wife, family, freedom and Western material largess.
The movie was filmed in New York, London, Montreal, Moscow and Malta, a Meditteranes nation off Sicily that must have been the site for the scenes in Beirut. There is no question that -- while the cinematography could easily have been more widescale and enjoyable -- the scenes in Malta and Moscow were particularly fine. The site filming added authenticity to the overall project.
Still, there are enough holes in the plot and superficiality to the story to keep this from being in the top rank. It is above average for its colluded storyline and Stone's wonderful performance. Anyone that likes spy films or romance will enjoy "A Different Loyalty".