Movie Review: The Imitation Game.
Directed By: Morten Tyldum.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong and Charles Dance.
In WW2 the German's have the upper hand by communicating through impossible to break codes called Enigma. English Mathematician, Alan Turing, volunteers to break the Enigma code and help win the war.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) stars as Alan Turing, a remarkably clever yet peculiar man who offers up his skills to break the German Enigma code that has the allies at bay. Cumberbatch gives the best performance of his career so far in The Imitation Game, he completely transforms into this lonely but incredibly clever man with one too many secrets.
The story of Alan Turing is one I only became aware of in the past year and its a horrifically tragic tale of a man who despite what he did for WW2, was ridiculed and sentenced for being homosexual. Keep in mind, this story takes place in WW2.....which wasn't that long ago. A country made it illegal for one to be homosexual.
Alan was not in this alone, he had a team of code breakers who worked countless hours each day for two years to solve Enigma. Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode play two of the people who work alongside Alan. Knightley gives a surprising amount of warmth and soul to her character who in lesser hands may have come off as a one note posh girl, she plays Joan Clark who is the only woman on the team that broke Enigma and is also Turing's public love interest, as we as the audience know, he is of course a homosexual man which is unbeknownst to Joan. Matthew Goode is also very good in his role, he is neither friend nor enemy to Alan and their relationship was great to see play out.
Morten Tyldum is a Norwegian filmmaker who makes his English language debut here and really impresses. The story is told beautifully, the film has a very melancholy undertone throughout. The film is split into three time frames that interweave, we see Alan as a teenager when he first learns about Cryptography, the majority of the film is spent with Alan as he is breaking Enigma and we also see the aftermath, when Alan is being sentenced for his crimes as a gay man. Each time frame complements the other and not once did the switches between times feel jarring or confusing. The adapted script by Graham Moore is also fantastic and gives the actors a lot to work with.
It was refreshing to not have the focus on the battlefield, we are shown snippets of war time archive footage that is edited in very well to remind us that a war is raging on in the background of this story and some newly filmed footage that unfortunately could have been taken out. These newly filmed scenes featured some underwhelming visual effects that did detract from the otherwise very realistic portrayal of WW2. Instead of explosive and intense action scenes we are shown the people behind the war, the incredibly intelligent men and women who worked every day to help in the war against Germany.
All of the performances in the film are great, especially from Cumberbatch who will hopefully be getting a nomination for his outstanding work here. I can't see any nominations being handed out to the supporting cast, but that's not to say the other performers weren't up to standard because they were. Most of us know from "Sherlock" that Cumberbatch can play an eccentric genius without even trying, but in this film he takes it to an all new level, his character is eccentric and intelligent but he's wounded, and while that doesn't really come out in words, Cumberbatch's eyes say it all. Watching Cumberbatch's eyes I acknowledged a vulnerability to this character that made his performance all the more compelling. Benedict Cumberbatch shows both the arrogance and the sensitivity of this very layered character.
This is one of the best stories I've seen in a film all year, whilst watching the film I was disgusted that this was true, especially in the final ten minutes which are utterly heartbreaking. The film is really well written, I'm hoping it receives a "Best Adapted Screenplay" nomination.
As I said before, the film has a melancholy undertone throughout but there are light hearted and even funny moments in the film. The audience I saw it with laughed a number of times as did I. Alan Turing is a very serious man who understands codes more than anyone, but didn't quite understand people and seeing his bizarre interactions with his co-workers was humorous.
There are two stories in the film that come together perfectly, the story of how Turing broke Enigma but also his struggle with his secret of his sexuality, the latter plays perfectly into the former as it becomes quite a big part of that story.
Charles Dance and Mark Strong have smaller roles in the film and while Charles Dance plays what you'd expect him to, Mark Strong gave a brilliant performance. Strong is most known for his villainous roles in "Sherlock Holmes", "Kick-Ass" and many more, but here he plays the head of MI6 and he added a lot to the tone of the film and while his role was relatively small, he certainly delivered.
The film delves into the grey areas of the war, having a subplot about a spy possibly infiltrating the team, the corruption in government and the choices and sacrifices that normal people had to make for the good of their country. There is one scene towards the end of the film that highlights a huge sacrifice that the team have to make that is almost unbearable to do but will in fact benefit the cause.
This is a really well made film, the writing is great, the direction was very good and Cumberbatch's performance elevates this feature to another level. This is a heartbreaking story that we all should know about, I definitely recommend The Imitation Game, I'm giving it an 8.9/10!
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