Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, tinkers in classic 70’s surroundings, tailors John Le Carré’s novel, and soldiers a brilliant British cast… and possibly spies some awards.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest (somewhat British) movies of the year, complete with a stellar line-up featuring the crème de la crème of British male actors, comes an adaptation of British novelist John le Carré’s spy thriller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In fact the only thing that’s not British, is the Swedish director, Toomas Alfredson, but that’s not to be held against him, as Alfredson has made masterful use of his British resources, successfully managing to tap into the British mentality.
Set in 1973, during the Cold War, the plot centers around the British Intelligence MI6 building, codenamed ‘The Circus’. However, within the smooth, calculated environment, the head of The Circus – Control (John Hurt) gets word that there may be a mole working for the Soviet intelligence officer Karla, within the Circus’ high ranks. Attention then diverts towards the suspects – Tinker: Percy Allellie (Toby Jones), Tailor: Bill Hayden (Colin Firth), Soldier: Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds), Poor Man: Toby Esterhase (David Dencik) and rather confusingly both a suspect and the man behind the espionage, Spy: the serious and composed detective ironically named George “Smiley” (Gary Oldman). What ensues is a gripping race to find and dodge the mole; complete with red herrings and unexpected thrills, Tinker Tailor is a complex, yet scintillating experience.
However, complex is an understatement to describe the film; Tinker Tailor requires your full, undivided attention, as many of the events go unspoken and rely on audience assumption. It is cleverly done, but most importantly, Alfredson has made sure that it isn’t overdone; the film is intellectual, yet inviting, which further adds to its brilliance. Much is left unsaid, but it is the thrill of the chase and most importantly, the appeal of the characters that draw you in.
Gary Oldman deserves all the praise that he is receiving for his performance; he is subtle, unreadable and completely absorbing. Just as praiseworthy are the performances of Smiley’s assisting colleague’s Peter Guillam (played by irrefutably charming Benedict Cumberbatch), and Ricki Tarr (played by the equally captivating Tom Hardy). Cumberbatch, from Sherlock fame, ironically plays the Dr. Watson-esque sidekick role in the film, which he takes on with great flair. While Hardy’s character provides the small, but much needed instances of light relief from the heated drama. The film is almost entirely male dominated, but it is a cast of Britain’s finest actors, both young and old, which makes for an array of engrossing and enchanting characters.
Alfredson’s work is also unquestionable; the cinematography is chic, stunningly shot and crafted masterfully to add suspense. Alfredson generates a feel of intensity; the effects are edgy, but also distinctly and beautifully vintage. Classic cars, retro clothes, and cringe-worthy 70’s wallpapers, are the backdrop encapsulating the atmosphere of this film. In fact, the small and classic setting of Everyman’s Cinema in Baker Street was the perfect host for this suave film, adding to the experience, much more than your normal multiplex ever could.
But one thing is for sure, not only does Tinker Tailor have the makings of a masterpiece, by the film’s close, there is a distinct whiff of Awards flanking the air, as it has BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar written all over it. The setting is magnificently created, the line-up is outstanding, and all in all, it is an intense, intellectual and brilliantly crafted, gripping thriller which will have you on the edge of your seat, hankering to find the mole as much as Smiley himself.
Originally featured on http://www.thewhatwherewhen.org/