movies: tinker tailor soldier spy

the enemy is withinIf you're looking for something layered, occasionally complex, but beautifully performed, then Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is your kind of movie.

It very much feels like they've taken the bag of excellent male British actors, turned it upside down and out has fallen a sublime cast...

Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Hardy... they're all amazingly good.

Oldman really does steal the show as the protaganist, George Smiley, though. He loses himself in his roles at the best of times, but I don't think I've really seen him in anything quite like this before.

But he has always been one of those actors that while you always recognise that he's Gary Oldman, he's never just playing himself. There is always so much character there. And Smiley is no different. There's no hint of Jim Gordon or Sirius Black or Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in his performance.... it's definitely somebody new. And it's beautiful to watch.

I was also impressed by Cumberbatch... although in a lot of ways his character feels a little bit more like it's designed to be the audience's entry point into this work... but the role is a world away from his performance as TV's latest Sherlock Holmes.

But essentially everyone who appears on screen is brilliant.

The plot is more than a little convoluted at times... and there are flashbacks and flashsideways switching of time and place that are occasionally jarring or at least confusing. And I did work out who "done it" as it were quite early in the movie... but that was more about a hunch based on actors that turned out to be correct rather than the plot being transparent.

And while I understand that everyone who goes to a movie goes with their own particular set of baggage and essentially everyone sees a slightly different movie because of that...

But there really was a whole bunch of very British, very repressed, very upper class, very "public school" homoerotic sexual tension going on throughout this movie! Of course it didn't help that I was getting the main character slightly mixed up with Guy Burgess who was the inspiration for the movie Another Country (who also happens to feature Colin Firth, oddly enough).

Even so, there's a thread of the queer that seems to run through the base of the movie. Or that could just be me.

It also looks amazing! Somebody said to me recently that a movie they'd been watching perfectly nailed a certain time period... and this does too... everything feels very grubby and dark and real but also perfectly of the era (the 1970's). But it's not in your face about it... it's just beautifully authentic (or at the very least it feels that way, since I wasn't actually running around London in the 70's).

To pare it back to it's essence, it's a wonderfully written (slight plot confusion notwithstanding), beautifully acted and wonderfully detailed movie.

yani's rating: 4 chess pieces out of 5

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