Festival of Books
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Denzel Washington
'Child 44' a passable thriller set in 1953 USSR
'Child 44' a passable thriller set in 1953 USSR

"Child 44" is involving despite itself. At times awkward and self-conscious, this despairing police tale starring Tom Hardy and set in the USSR during the last days of dictator Josef Stalin manages to muster enough punch to hold our interest. As readers of literary thrillers will remember, "Child 44" is based on a 2008 novel by Tom Rob Smith that sold 1.5 million copies and was potent enough to be long-listed for the Booker Prize. Not all the factors that made the book a success have translated to the film intact, but a key one has, and it's that singular setting. As directed by Daniel Espinosa, "Child 44" takes us back to the drab grimness of the...