THE IMITATION GAME LFF 2014 Film Review

Title: The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer(s): Andrew Hodges (Author of “Alan Turing: The Enigma”) and Graham Moore (Screenplay)
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance
Festival Premiere Date: 8th October 2014
General UK Release Date: 14th November 2014
Genre: Biography, War, Thriller, Drama 
Plot Synopsis: British mathematical genius and pioneering computer scientist, Alan Turing, is thrust into a race against time as he and his team of code-breakers work on a top secret mission at Bletchley Park to decipher and crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma Code that helped the Allies win the second world war…
Review: I must begin by declaring that the title of this written entry is a little misleading to anyone reading this. As most of us Benedict fans are aware, this film was placed as the opening night gala of the 56th BFI London Film Festival. It was unfortunate that I was to be one of the unlucky souls that couldn’t get a ticket in time. But it wasn’t long until the wonderful ‘Show Film First’ team came to my rescue, paving way for the opportunity for me to still see it, complete with the stars walking down the red carpet and everything. It was like I was there for real without having to leave the comfort of my own cinema seat.
The film itself is a work of art, an outstanding British achievement and a fascinating story about one of the key figures during World War II. Being familiar with the Enigma machine and the breaking of the Enigma code, I however, never gained much knowledge of Alan Turing himself. Going to see this film was the only answer I needed to know more about this man and get a real insight into his personal life. The founder of computer science, a brilliant mathematician, philosopher and codebreaker; Turing was also a loner, an individual (due to his arrogance) and a closet homosexual, struggling with his deep secret and identity on the basis of being gay during a time that deemed it illegal and subject to terrible capital punishment.
I can’t think of a more better, more talented and more distinguished actor than Benedict Cumberbatch to play this role. He was born to play the part of Alan Turing, bringing much warmth, intelligence and emotional conflict to this genius pioneer; making his performance staggeringly beautiful to watch. Already having established himself as one of the biggest hard working and uprising actors we have today, proving he can do just about anything in theatre, television and film to name a few, his work in films have actually appealed to me the most. Therefore comparing this to his other notable performances in successful movies that include Tinker Tailor Solder Spy (2011), War Horse (2012) and August:Osage County (2013); its obvious this is his most defining screen performance yet, clearly demonstrating the love and admiration he has for Turing effortlessly coming through.

As the leading actor who carries most of the weight that heavily bares down on both of his shoulders, I shouldn’t forget to mention that Benedict is also greatly supported by a brilliant cast of reliable actors who just happen to be some of the best we have in the British industry. Keira Knightley spends the most screen time with Benedict as Joan Clarke, an English cryptanalyst recruited as the only woman by Turing to work with him as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park, where they became very close friends. They are ably supported by other British talents such as Matthew Goode, Mark Strong and Charles Dance, who all give impressive performances also.

In order to get a more deeper and thorough understanding of Turing as a human being, director Morten Tyldum focuses in creating two simultaneous timelines within the story, one being set at the end of the 1920s where a young Alan Turing is a student at the University of Cambridge, shown as an isolated, socially awkward outcast, being constantly taunted and bullied by his peers not just on the account of his high IQ but because his intelligence makes him different from the rest. And in the other timeline we see him in his adult years from 1938 – 1945, being recruited by the strict and fairly uncompromising Commander Denniston (Charles Dance), working with a secret team of other code-breakers at the Government Code and Cypher School to decipher the messages encrypted by the German Enigma machine. A machine that has 159 million, million possible settings that gets reset at midnight. But if the code is finally solved and broken, it will win the war and end it once and for all.

There are a lot of surprises and shocks along the way that I never saw coming during Turing’s frantic and desperate top secret mission in cracking the code. There’s one scene that is truly heartbreaking, leaving me with a big lump in my throat. It was so affecting and sad, that I was surrounded by so many sniffing, tearful women in the screening room. So words of advice ladies, make sure you have a handful of kleenex at the ready…

There were a couple of story elements I may have been a tiny bit disappointed with. One of them being Mark Strong not given enough screen time as Stewart Menzies, the Chief of MI6, whom while observing the code-breakers and their progress, may or may not have some hidden motives of his own.

Apart from that, this is an absolutely solid and remarkable, British landmark film. Whether its the acting talent on display that attracts you to see it or wanting to learn more about Alan Turing and the efforts he made to help win the second world war like I did, there is bound to be something for you to take away from this film that will refuse to leave your mind for days after.

In an interview with USA Today, when Benedict talks with affection about Turing, he goes on to mention how hopefully, this film will bring to the fore what an extraordinary human being he was and how appalling his treatment by the government was. When you see the film, you will completely understand and agree with what Benedict is saying here. Cannot highly recommend this enough.

5 out of 5.

Martin

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