A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

 Tinker, Tailor is the sort of film that divides audiences. It's a film that one either likes or doesn't.
I admit I was motivated to see it purely on the strength of seeing a number of my favourite British actors onscreen. I was prepared for the fact that I mightn't like it, judging from the mixed reviews that were strewn all over the web.

Oddly enough, I enjoyed it. Quite a bit actually. At least enough to download the unabridged audiobook, to make the usual comparisons. I say "oddly" because the pacing is incredibly slow, and the director seems to have penchant for close ups to the point of self-indulgence. Nevertheless, that didn't seem to be much of an obstacle and I was drawn into a story which is largely told in flashbacks.

The acting, of course, is marvellous which is to be expected, more or less, considering the cast. Gary Oldman's George Smiley fascinated me on a couple of levels. The character starts off appearing to be something of a nonentity and is gradually transformed into someone to be reckoned with... right before your eyes. That is the genius of his performance, it seems to me. And all done without any CGI.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who has comfortably taken on the mantle of Sherlock Holmes these days, is also wonderful as Peter Guillam but it is Mark Strong that really surprised me by his performance as Jim Prideaux.

This Cold War tale penned originally by Le Carre is set in the 1970s. There's a mole (double agent) buried in the heart of the Circus (MI6 HQ) and Smiley has been called out of forced retirement to root out the problem. Despite being an espionage piece, it's less The Bourne Identity and more like a plodding police procedural. The spycraft isn't as important as the practitioners and their motivations for doing what they do. Although at the end of the day, they're riddled with ambiguities.

Overall, it's a great period piece. Great sets, great costumes and hairstyles. Strange, isn't it... thinking of the 70s as history. Age must really be catching up with me. Afterall, I do remember the Cold War... at least when it was on its last legs.

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