Title: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writer: Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch
Length: 127 mins
Release Date: January 6, 2012
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John le Carre’s worldwide-praised espionage novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a Cold War political thriller with a plot and narrative structure that weaves us in and out of Cold War tensions and political corruption in an endlessly engrossing web of suspense. Alfredson does an incredible job with this complicated dialogue and character driven work. Those who haven’t read Carre’s novel, myself included, are given an impeccably-made taste of espionage. Carre’s masterwork has already been adapted into a critically acclaimed British television series in 1979 which starred Alec Guinness. This modern representation is fueled by a further experienced view point, in that political corruption is commonplace today, as well as a screenplay and acting which are both among the best you will see all year long.
British playwrights Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan collaborate to create a script of the finest quality. Their dialogue is subtle, full of informative twists and a cautiousness that defines the characters it creates. If your ears are not always open and waiting for that special piece of information that will make and break the story, you will surely miss vital, quickly mentioned pieces that are essential getting the full effect of this corrupted puzzle. The knowledgeability of the time and individuals it represents is magnificent.
British Intelligence – rightfully nicknamed “The Circus – sends an agent to Hungary to receive information about a mole, but their cover is blown and the agent is shot in the back by Soviet Intelligence. An international incident gets loose and goes crazy and a secret information-delivering section is created, code named “Witchcraft.” George Smiley is brought out of retirement to investigate and attempt to find an alleged “high ranked” mole. Set in 1973, a time when simply muttering the word “Soviet” would make all politicians and most people all around the world to pace in uneasiness. Smiley is caught in a mysterious hunt: the question isn’t who is corrupted, but instead who is corrupted the least.
Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy. Gary Oldman as Smiley is the hint of reliableness in this sea of two-faced characters who make you shiver in anxiety when you think of the kind of secrets they know and the power they hold. His character could be described as taciturn, but I viewed his lack of response and every-wary conversations as perfect portrayal of a man consumed – rightfully so – by his experienced fear of saying the wrong thing or merely too much. Oldman’s performance is magnificent, one of the best of his equally impressive career, along with the being the most restrained great performance of the year. Firth plays Bill Haydon, the man who takes Smiley’s place as the right-hand-man. His performance is one that sneaks up on you, as the mysteries of the plot are discovered the power comes to a head. Cumberbatch and Hardy have two of the finer minor performances. Neither get consistent screen time, but both leave their mark. Hardy proves to be a major force in the story, Cumberbatch proves to be a major force in the endless uneasiness. Other notable performances include John Hurt as Control and Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux.
Swedish director Tomas Alfredson makes his return after the success of his superb adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s vampire romance novel, Let The Right One In (2008). His direction is filled with bleak, tension-filled imagery that coexists perfectly with the chilling atmosphere of boiling corruption. He creates tension not by bombarding us with melodrama or dramatization to the point where authenticity is challenged, but by creating scenes and situations where simple conversations are as unsettling and nerve-racking as a loud argument or brutal murder.
Filed Under: Reviews