Monday, December 12, 2011

Movie with Abe: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Released December 9, 2011

There’s nothing like a good spy thriller. Espionage in general is exciting, and the hunt for a double agent within the ranks of the United Kingdom’s central intelligence agency makes the plot even more enticing. Some films struggle with emphasizing either characters or story, and that’s not a problem that plagues “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” a contemplative, layered film featuring a healthy sampling of the best British and European actors working today. While the plot does drag occasionally as the film wallows in its moodiness, there’s no denying the stylized allure of this adaptation of the classic spy novel.

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is best embodied by its protagonist, the ironically-named George Smiley, played with immense dedication by Gary Oldman. Smiley chooses his words carefully and never says anything or makes a movement without cause. His attention to detail and precision makes him the perfect man to root out a mole in his unit. Oldman is surrounded by a truly astounding cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Ciarin Hinds, Tom Hardy, Simon McBurney, and in a particularly fabulous role, John Hurt as operations director Control. There is not a weak link in this incredibly capable and commendable ensemble.

The cast is not the only exceptional part of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” Each aspect and element of the film is fine-tuned for the utmost accuracy and dramatic potential, and the film is structured much like the way that its main character George Smiley lives, including only what is absolutely necessary and of most value. The dialogue, flooded with codenames and covert allusions, is crisp and superb, turning mundane occurrences into clues and red herrings. The film jumps through time regularly as a way of assembling a coherent picture of events, establishing a timeless and almost endless feel to Smiley’s search. The costumes and hairstyles are especially notable, as the film stands true to its 1970s setting. In its commitment to building suspense through care and emphasis on accuracy, the film wavers a bit as its web of deception becomes ever more complex. There’s no one specific moment that lags, but rather a sense of unproductiveness midway through the film that pales in comparison to the rest of the film’s focus on precision. Regardless, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is an expertly crafted, deeply interesting thriller that excels in storytelling, aesthetics, and rich performances from its talented male cast.


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