Review: Six Minutes to Midnight

STUDIO: IFC | DIRECTOR: Andy Goddard | CAST: Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench, James D’Arcy, Jim Broadbent, Carla Juri, Celyn Jones
RELEASE DATE: March 26, 2021
SPECS: PG-13 | 99 min. | Drama thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2

Hundreds of films have been made about World War II, so it’s always a welcome surprise when one comes along with a fresh angle. That’s the case with the just released Six Minutes to Midnight, though its freshness isn’t enough to carry it to victory.

In the late 1930’s Augusta-Victoria College of Bexhill-on-Sea on the south-coast of England, was a real finishing school for daughters and god-daughters of senior members of the Nazi party, who were sent there to learn the language and be ambassadors for a future-looking National Socialist Party. The school was run on Nazi ideals throughout Hitler’s governance as demonstrated by the school badge, which had a swastika on one side and a Union Jack on the other. This fascinating anomaly in British history piqued the interest of Eddie Izzard (Velvet Goldmine), whose family is from the area, and she, along with fellow writers Celyn Jones (The Vanishing) and Andy Goddard (A Kind of Murder) — who also directs — decided to wrap a fictional spy thriller around it.

British intelligence officer Thomas Miller (Izzard) poses as an English teacher to the daughters of high-ranking Nazis when the former teacher Mr. Wheatley mysteriously goes missing. Thomas must keep tabs on the girls so the English government can use them as pawns when dealing with the Nazi party. The school’s headmistress Miss Rocholl (Judy Dench, Blithe Spirit) faithfully believes she is helping the mademoiselles prepare for the Anglo-German fellowship but Thomas begins to suspect her devoted assistant Ilse Keller (Carla Juri, Blade Runner 2049) is a German spy with ulterior motives. When Wheatley’s body is discovered, Miller becomes suspect number one and must clear his name while also thwarting Ilse’s plans to secretly return the girls back to Germany before England goes to war with Germany.

Six Minutes to Midnight offers a few fun moments of genuine suspense that flourish with Hitchcockian undertones, but the intriguing premise is squandered with a muddled spy narrative full of murky motives. The girls are German citizens, why shouldn’t they be able to go back to their families? So England can use them as bargaining chips? It doesn’t help that we never really get a chance to know any of the students beyond clichés that one’s a popular bully and one’s an outcast bookworm. The most interesting part of the film – the existence of such a school, its purpose and how the girls think and feel about their enrollment — isn’t truly mined for its inherent drama. Although Izzard does a good job securing sympathy for her personal plight and conveying her character’s hesitancy to hand the girls over to the Intelligence chiefs, there isn’t much to root for here.

All of the performances are solid and bright spots include a brief performance by Jim Broadbent (Another Year) as a local bus driver who aids in Thomas’s escape and James D’Arcy (Life Like) in a supporting role alongside co-screenwriter/actor Jones as police officers trying to track Thomas down.

It’s tough luck that Six Minutes To Midnight makes its debut on the heels of another British spy film The Courier, because it’s impossible not to draw comparisons between the two, with the latter definitively coming out on top.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at