Title: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Lead: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt
Rated: R for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language
A retired British Intelligence agent is forced out of retirement to hunt down a spy within their ranks
You know when you take a test and you come across a question that is completely perplexing that you simply cannot answer; you struggle and struggle to pull the answer from deep within your brain but you just can’t do it. You finish the test, turn it in and head straight for your notes; you scan and scan until you finally find the answer and when you do you sigh at how simple the answer was, you slap your head knowing that you should have known that answer. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (TTSS) is that question and the ending is the answer.
The film is so complex with so many odd continuity breaks. The story is not linear but it comes off as trying to be told in a linear form. There are bits that simply don’t seem to work with the rest of the story but eventually tie back in, but never really meant enough to be told.
If that previous paragraph didn’t make a lot of sense to you, then you have a fractional feeling about how I felt while watching TTSS. The story tries to be more complex than it has to be. It could have been more conveniently stitched together to withhold the complexity while still being extremely accessible to the viewer. Granted, the film is based on a book that I haven’t read, so I can’t give testament to whether the book is also very difficult to understand, but the movie most certainly is, and it could have been an easier story to tell. This film fortunately was so beautifully shot that it somewhat made up for its “herky jerky” storytelling method. I love symmetrical shots (Huge Wes Anderson fan) and this movie had plenty of awesomely planned out shots. The film was slightly under-saturated and smokey looking which helped me believe the period in which the film was set (cold war era). The acting was pretty stellar, Gary Oldman was solid (as always). He plays a very subdued, ex-intelligence agent that gets pulled out of retirement to hunt down a mole in the British Intelligence. He doesn’t speak much but when he does, it matters. Tom Hardy and Colin Firth were very good, but I personally think that Benedict Cumberbatch stole the show. He played a character Peter Guillam who seemed to be below board at times and a little bit shady, but then at other times seemed to be a really upstanding guy really close to the head of intelligence. Needless to say, his character was a very solid representation of how confusing this film really was. Cumberbatch should get a supporting actor nomination when the Oscars roll into town.
I recommend seeing this movie if you enjoy movies like The Good Shepherd or Good Night and Good Luck. If you see it for any reason, see it for the cinematography and all the old British cars (Classic Minis!) The “R” rating is warranted, there is a pretty unsettling torture scene and some extremely graphic dead bodies shown. I expect this movie to get a few important nominations for Academy Awards including Best Actor in Gary Oldman, Best Picture, Best Director in Tomas Alfredson and probably a couple other technical awards. 7.5 out of 10