Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a British movie in the absolute best sense of the word. Understated yet assertive, it rather conforms to its main thesis: Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.

Superbly written by Graham Moore from Andrew Hodges biography of one of the men most misunderstood during his generation, The Imitation Game works equally well as a biopic, an acting showcase, and a heartbreaking look at life’s injustices, and only slightly less well as a thriller, though it never really tries to be one.

The film never soapboxes, yet by the end, there is the definite sense that something special has just been witnessed. Director Morten Tyldum deserves much credit for this. He walks a fine line straddling emotional potency and emotional overbearance and he does so with poise remarkable for a man directing his first English-language work. Alexandre Desplat’s excellent score certainly does not hurt either.

Neither do the performances. As Alan Turing, Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a masterful portrayal of a troubled genius nuanced so as to not resemble his Sherlock Holmes even in the minutest sense. It is most surely a mannered performance, but every mannerism feels incredibly natural and his emotional reveals are handled expertly. His genius is not precocious, instead being comfortable in his own skin because of a couple of loving persons. He makes Turing both a wretched human being and one the audience cannot help but sympathize with.

Keira Knightley gives arguably her best ever performance. Perhaps even more impressive, she’s actually convincing at playing the brilliant Joan Clarke. The rest of the cast is also up to the task and whether it be Mark Strong or Allen Leech, Charles Dance or Matthew Goode, each is up to the task.

But the movie is more than just about Turing’s tremendous accomplishments and contributions to the Allied war effort. It is also his homosexuality, and, perhaps more importantly, about the injustice of life, in which a national hero, admittedly unknown, can be convicted of a crime no matter how harmless.

The Imitation game is an excellent film and a deserving tribute to a man whose singular genius altered history.

The Imitation Game is one of my favorite movies of the year, not just for Cumberbatch’s performance or just for the complete Britishness of the proceedings, but for the honestness of its portrayal of a man struggling with himself in a society that cannot accept him.


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