|Portuguese subtitles Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||one year ago|
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A Genuine Achievement
8/10 Boldly announcing himself upon the stage of international cinema with 2009's Let the Right One In, the significant critical and commercial acclaim accorded director Thomas Alfredson clearly proved him a filmmaker capable of pulling off high quality adaptations of complex and dark literary sources.4 years ago
Called back into service to uncover the identity of a Soviet mole at the height of the Cold War, retired British intelligence operative George Smiley is tasked with unwinding a vastly convoluted web of conspiracy, codenames, double agents, and deceit.
The movement from relatively low-budget foreign language filmmaking to helming star casts in comparably costly productions is one that, historically, holds significant risk for directorial careers. Add to the mix the danger of bringing a much-loved novel to life on screen, and Alfredson is certainly faced with a substantial task. An espionage thriller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spybased on John le Carre's bookthrows an extremely layered narrative at its audience and insists they keep up, making little in the way of allowance for those accustomed to excess plot exposition. Concerning an approximate dozen key charactersmost of whom go by at least two namesthe film contains a considerable quantity of raw information to be processed, particularly considering its reserved pace; the camera scrolls slowly across the screen in step with the story's measured progression, constantly moving along yet never losing the integral tension of its hastelessness. Alfredson and screenwriters Bridget O' Connor and Peter Straughan demonstrate a keenness for the more tensely-oriented end of the genre, delving into an atmosphere of unease rather than one of brisk spy action. There is almost an air of claustrophobia to much of the film, the caliginous cinematography and mysterious score combining to evoke an aura of noir paranoia. Much like Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy boasts a thrilling visual panache; indeed, Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography is oftentimes so remarkably involving that entire scenes may pass by without any absorption of the dialogical details disclosed thereinthe brain is simply too overcome by the aesthetic bombardment of visual pleasure to decipher the explicit aural signals. One particular shotan extreme close-up of Smiley's wearied face draped in shadow affords the audience the time to study the furrowed ridges of his forehead and the weighted bags of his eyelids, giving us an entitled sense of knowledge of, and familiarity with, this character. It seems almost redundant to offer praise to the film's extraordinary cast; a brief glance at the list of exemplary names will disclose the sheer calibre of talent on display: a veritable dream team of the finest names of modern British cinema. From Firth to Hurt, Hardy to Cumberbatch, Oldman to Dencik, the phenomenal cast plays beautifully together, each actor inhabiting their character with award-courting flair. Where Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy really shines is in its characterisationan all-too often underutilised aspect in this genreeach of them distinctly human rather than simply mouths through which the plot developments are channelled. Their primary concern may be with their espionage, but ours is with them: exploring their motivations; their private lives; their loyalties; and just how a career like theirs affects an existence. A recurring Christmas party scene revisited a number of times throughout the film reminds us regularly that these intelligence agents are not solely extensions of the government's facilities, but rather human beings with emotions, afflicted by the agonies of their toils, burying themselves in vodka-laced punch to just get away from it all.
Hitting all the right notes in its performances, script, and direction, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy triumphantly infuses a challengingly multifarious narrative with a deeper humanity, questioning by proxy the way in which devotion to duty affects all aspects of our lives. Shot with unforgettable effulgencecommitting to memory eternal every last contour of Oldman's storied browit is a genuine achievement in cinematic storytelling.
Class all the way through
10/10 I have been eagerly awaiting this production for a long time and have not been disappointed. Never have I seen such a compilation of such fabulous performances together. No way is this another James Bond, it is how the world of espionage was, and is today. No car chases in Aston Martins or gadgets but a world of seedy little offices and the grim reality of this genre. What had the greatest impact on myself was the slow deep menace conveyed by all. Difficult to single out any one performance as all were amazing but I particularly admired Gary Oldman, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy for their work. At times this film has some unexpected moments of shocking cruelty. Complex character portrayal is presented in a slow deep style that only inspires you to know more about the person. The story itself is a classic and known by many, yet this production introduces a few changes which work well. One of the most absorbing and classy movies I have seen and has left a lasting impact on me. Please, please, please, make Smiley's People now.4 years ago
Not everyone can be one of Smiley's people.
8/10 It is true to say that Smiley is no Bourne nor Bond but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a beautifully played and observed spy film. Should you expect car chases, spills, thrills, gadgets galore and closely-choreographed fight scenes then you WILL be disappointed.4 years ago
Set in smoke-filled, sepia-tinged 1970s, the film centres around the uncovering of a mole 'right at the top of the circus'. The 'circus' is the British Intelligence Services and is made up of a who's who of British acting talent - Firth, Hinds, Cumberbatch, Hardy, Strong and Hurt. For the most part, the action takes place in the brown-suited and wall-papered world of England but we are given brief glimpses of the spy territory in Budapest, Paris and Istanbul. Smiley, played inscrutably by Oldman, is tasked with uncovering the mole and is ably assisted by Guillam, the ever-watchable Cumberbatch.
Admittedly this is a slow-burn of a film, full of meaningful looks, pregnant pauses and one that hints at deeper and more complex plot strands but it has an authentic air and it is a fascinating to observe a build-up of tension and cold-war paranoia which culminates in a dramatic if subdued fashion. Being slightly too young to have watched the original Alec Guiness TV series, I cannot make any direct comparisons and I imagine that a TV series allows much more time for plot and character development. The film must be judged on its own merits, and whilst I am sure that this will not be to many mainstream movie-goers' tastes, it is one for those who are looking for a film of a different type, time and pace.
James Bond, this is not...
9/10 Forty-six year old Swedish director Tomas Alfredson came to prominence three years ago when he directed the film adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel 'Let The Right One In'. After the initial success of the vampiric romantic drama, Alfredson became attached to an international adaptation of John le Carre's espionage-novel 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'. Based on aspects of le Carre's (also known as David Cornwell) experiences during his time as a member of the British Intelligence service sectors MI5 and MI6 during the 1950s and 1960s, Alfredson creates a fine, absorbing picture which engrosses from beginning to end.4 years ago
Control (John Hurt), the leader of an unknown sector of the British Intelligence service, is ousted along with his long-standing companion George Smiley (Gary Oldman) due to a botched operation in Budapest, Hungary which saw the officer Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) murdered in public. Control was under the impression that there was a mole among the top ranking members of the service, referred to as the Circus by the other top ranking members due to its location in Cambridge Circus, London, and Smiley is drawn out of retirement to pinpoint the culprit after Control passes away. Alongside the young Intelligence officer Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley has four primary candidates to focus his investigation upon; they are the last remaining members of the Circus, Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik).
Utilizing an all-star, established cast, Alfredson allows the film to unfold at an almost flawless pace. Every sequence contains a small snippet of information which allows the viewer to conduct their own investigation alongside that of Smiley's. While the narrative is also driven along by strong performances from the primarily male cast, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, David Dencik, Stephen Graham and Kathy Burke all give strong, commanding performances. While the true artists of the piece are Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the young, and somewhat naive intelligent officer assigned to assist Smiley. John Hurt as the aging, instinct-driven leader of the British service, and Tom Hardy, who is Ricki Tarr the dirty cleaner for British intelligence's most fowl operations. Their performances go above and beyond in their supporting roles, and at times eclipse Gary Oldman's subdued portrayal of a man drawn back into the murky world of corruption, betrayal and treasure.
Alongside the narrative and its cast, one of the more surprising aspects of the film, is Alfredson, Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and Editor Dino Jonsater's use of stylistic nuances that further enhance the viewing experience. Lingering close-up shots of seemingly insignificant objects and shallow focus shots constantly evoke the nature of mystery and intrigue which surrounds such clandestine organisations. Alfredson never rushes any moment, instead he allows for the audience to become accustomed to their surroundings and appreciate their beauty. Wide angle shots and long lenses are used for interior and exterior locations, showcasing the breakdowns of their interiors, while close-up shots are used to examine objects and characters in their most frail states. During the opening sequence involving Prideaux's botched secret mission, a simple concoction of jump cuts and lingering static shots concentrating upon various characters within the vicinity creates a sense of the tension, suspense and vulnerability of the situation and this is how Alfredson constantly keeps the audience engrossed. By providing those observing the action on screen with just enough information that they themselves become entwined within Smiley's investigation as he moves forward.
Once the credits and a dedication to the films screenwriter Bridget O'Connor who passed away last year finish, the viewer is left with an overriding sense of satisfaction. Smiley's world is a far cry away from the glitz and glamour that the espionage genre has become accustomed to. There are no martinis in sight, but only reel upon reel of bureaucratic wrangling, childish bickering and greed-induced deal-making, where it seems everybody is working for themselves and their reputation rather than the nation's government that is employing them. Since its premiere at the 68th Venice International Film Festival 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' has been touted as an Oscar contender and it is easy to understand why, Tomas Alfredson has taken a solid source novel, utilized an established cast and infused the final concoction with elements from his own visual repertoire to create a wonderfully crafted film that does the original BBC televised series justice.
Brain not brawn
5/10 It really is interesting to read the above reviews. I've just come back from seeing it and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I wondered if for people who hadn't read the book or seen the TV series it would make sense, and obviously it doesn't. It also doesn't fit the change in perception that the current generation have needing an edit at least every 5 seconds and a linear storyline, that's not ageist, just what we in a much older generation have left as our inheritance, sadly. I really enjoyed the film references whether they are intentional or not, they range from Rear Window to La Nuit Americaine to Mr Bean's Holiday to Godard. Gary Oldman as Smiley is very good, much colder that AG and as in the book a bit younger. It is also less of the feel of a group of Oxbridge Dons in charge rather ex servicemen as MI5 was in those days. I was in my 20's in the early 1970's and the general dullness of everything during that time comes through very well. I would think that after they edited it they wished they hadn't had some rather crass graffiti so prominent, but I remember it was all over London at that time. Good film with a plot that makes you concentrate and you have to use your brain, well worth seeing, but don't go if you want thrills and spills.4 years ago