Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Cathy Burke
John le Carré's famous espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is often considered as one of the greatest spy novels of all time, now adapted to the silver screen by director Tomas Alfredson. The story tells of retired George Smiley, who is recalled to investigate a potential mole supplying information to soviet spies within a segment of the secret intelligence service known as ‘The Circus’. Not knowing who he can trust, Smiley is forced into desperate situations in order to unveil the traitor and cease their operations. Sounds pretty basic doesn’t it? However there have been opinions relayed by certain audience members who walked away from the film having reviewed it as too confusing, poorly paced and lacking tempo. They were expecting a James Bond style of espionage, a gritty thriller that is low on plot and high on long and often gratuitous action scenes. If you are expecting elaborate action scenes, technologically advanced gadgets and gorgeous woman in bikinis, all features that you would expect in other spy films, then Tinker Tailor is not for you. If you are not one for long expansive scenes of dialogue, and you prefer seeing a collection of villainous minions get annihilated and pummelled by a suave and sexy spy, then I would stick to Bond, or if you must, Johnny English.
Although the script is well constructed and eloquently executed, the cinematography is filming at its best. In order for the brilliant dialogue not to clutter every scene in the film, Alfredson uses the editing and cinematography to convey the narrative without causing the film to become heavily worded, inducing more emotion and pathos into the film through visual features. Another of these visual treats is the cast, with the film displaying an ensemble of actors that would occupy the nominations of most Oscar evenings, each with an individually intricate role within the films elaborate canvas. The film just oozes cinematic perfection; it is subtle and apparent, definite and vague. Each twist and revelation drags you through the film, with every one of them posing more questions which are not necessarily answered in their entirety. It is the epitome of cinematic suspense.
Despite the disapproval of some commenting that the film is too complicated, Tinker Tailor does require you to think and imagine for yourself. There is no introductory caption explaining the political situation when the film is set, nor is there any information provided for the audience to understand the location of the scene, or where the scene falls within the chronology of the narrative; the audience is forced to think and use their initiative. The film is almost aware of its own presence, and is intentionally uninformative and lacking in complete information. This is one of the most effective features of the film, as it encourages the audience to engage with the film, and not to remain passive and distanced from what they are seeing. As I commented before t is unfair to say it is a complicated film that intentionally confuses the audience, however Tinker Tailor requires you to simply think and judge for yourself. However this film does not make its audience intellectually inferior to itself, nor is it aimed specifically at those who appreciate espionage thrillers. It aims to reach out to a much wider spectrum of cinematic enthusiasts, with the hope of appealing to a collection of cinemagoers that have a varying interest in film and the world of cinema and storytelling. If you enjoy your cinema, if you like electrifying scripts that are well acted, direction and cinematography that can evoke certain emotions where dialogue fails to, then Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a joy to see.