Film Review: The Imitation Game

There are some films that grab you the minute you see the first frames flicker from the trailer and The Imitation Game was exactly one of those films. No matter what angle I looked at it from, this appeared to be the type of film that I adored. It didn’t matter what reviews may or may not claim as its release date neared. I didn’t care. Good or bad, I would happily pay to see this film.

It should also be pointed out right now that I am in the processes of undertaking a psychology degree and so, a biopic about one of Britain’s, if not the World’s greatest minds and the torturous life and events that unfold around him would instantly appeal. I am fascinated by why the mind works as it does. Why life creates stereotypes. And why mental genres and idiosyncratic personalities develop. Therefore, if you’re looking for a case study, Alan Turing should be high up that list!

The first thing I would say about the movie is that it is extremely British. I truly think that a lot of the impact it had on me and the thoughts that I have taken away from it are down as much to a sense of national pride as anything else, and so viewers in the rest of the world may struggle to get quite the same impact from it. I’m not sure they’ll “get” the story, it’s importance or the emotions conveyed and stirred quite as grippingly.

Benedict Cumberbatch - Alan Turing - The Imitation Game

I do, and will, however, start my review with a gripe. Benedict Cumberbatch. This is a role that he was almost designed to play, essentially Turing is an extension to the character and persona he created in Sherlock. The twisted, withdrawn, loner who just happens to be a genius, and it shows as he never really looks challenged, as he more and more convincingly walks his way through the story. There is already talk of award season success and I can see why. His performance is good; but it’s not gold statue good. However, that’s not my real problem, my issue lies with his age. At the very beginning of the film, Turing is referenced as being 27 years old. Cumberbatch is not, and cannot, look 27. It’s annoying as it’s a line that doesn’t really need to be there. It date references the character and simply creates a distraction. One I couldn’t shake for the rest of the film.

Keira Knightley also manages to bring her usual cheeriness to her part but seems, again, to lack any real depth. You believe in her and her character, don’t get me wrong; but it’s hard to really see it as a stand out role. She could have quite easily walked straight onto the set from that of Begin Again without pausing from breath or noticing the changed in era.

And to finish bashing the cast, you must honourably mention Charles Dance. He is just too well known. His “face” is just too famous. Every time he appeared on screen you just instantly saw Charles Dance and not Commander Denniston. Thankfully though, he role is a supportive cameo one, but that only helps to dilute rather than dissolve the problem.

Enigma Machine - The Imitation Game

All is not lost though, because if you ignore the slight troubles with the cast mentioned above. If you look at the story, the plot, the biography, you cannot help by be gripped, moved and driven head first into an emotional rollercoaster that leaves you longing to know more while ashamed of societies actions and amazed by the brilliance of a single man. The film, obviously, twists and turns around Turing’s defining moment with Enigma. Slowly increasing the tension and your heart beat, with every tick of the clock, every word in the code and every failure to find the key.

And this tension is heightened more and more, further and further by the soundtrack. Alexandre Desplat needs to be commended, because the soundtrack manages to pull off the ultimate trick of being completely unnoticeable until the exact moment it’s unimposing complimentary impact is felt through every fibre. If there are little gold statues heading towards The Imitation Game, this is where I would expect to see it strongly argue its case.

Turing Machine - Christopher - The Imitation Game

Looking at the film as a whole though, From start to finished the film has a cinematic style in that it cuts and jumps around the story and the time frame in which it is set quite happily. Using post and pre war events to break up the game of cryptographic cat and mouse that dominates the story. This sounds risky, it sounds like the perfect recipe for breaking the tension of the film, but it never does, somehow it actually serves to enhance it. It works to keep the pace fast and sharp and coherent. The film takes you emotionally to the edge of your seat and then expertly keeps you there. Never feeling uncomfortable, but never wishing you to relax either.

Sadly, though, once the moment comes and the game ends the rest of the film starts to lose it’s way a little. Not enough to leave a sour taste or ruin what went before, but enough of a release to make you wish they’d kept the game going just a little bit longer. All is not lost though, because it manages to relight that lost passion and desire inside you right at the very end, and certainly don’t let a slight slip put you off, because truly and honestly, minor faults and all, I adored this film. It really did move me and it left me desperately wanting to know more. I am already thinking that a trip to Bletchley Park, to see Turing’s machine, may be in order. And for a film to leave that as it’s lasting thought is very impressive indeed.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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