Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Hey, I'm back! Sorry I haven't been writing many reviews lately. No excuses, just being lazy. I still love you, though. Don't let anyone think otherwise.

Today's review is my first non-James Bond review of 2012. Ironically, it's the opposite of a James Bond movie: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of John le Carre's classic espionage novel. The story, set in the 70's, follows George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a disgraced British Intelligence officer who is forced into retirement after a botched operation, and then called back in to weed out a Soviet mole who has infiltrated his way up to the very top of the system. They have narrowed him down to one of only five men.

Smiley was conceived as the complete antithesis of James Bond. He is an over-the-hill cuckolded bureaucrat. Being a spy is not romantic at all in this world. Gary Oldman is excellent in the role, very understated and unassuming which are qualities much more suitable for a secret agent, if you ask me.

Tomas Alfredson, whose first film was the beautiful adolescent vampire romance Let the Right One In, directs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with a muted, melancholy touch. The cinematography is top notch, and the acting is some of the best I've seen in 2011. In addition to Oldman, the cast includes Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy. Their performances are all as understated as Oldman's, though, and generally, the awards folks like things to be a little bit showy, so I'm not surprised that this movie is getting pretty much passed over by everyone.

As for the story, well, it's pretty dense and murky, and requires the viewer's utmost attention and patience. I admit that I may not have been able to follow it entirely, but I saw that as a plus. It's rare that a movie comes out that requires the viewer to work. I enjoyed trying to puzzle it all together, but much of the audience at the theater I was attending seemed completely turned off.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not for everyone. Personally, I enjoyed it, though it did take a while to really get going. I would very much like to read the novel that it's based upon and then watch the movie again, and see if and how that will alter my perception of it.

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