Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
Every once in a while a movie comes along that stands out for all the right reasons. It’s different from the blockbusters that fall from the Hollywoodconveyer belt. It entertains and enthrals, without having things exploding in your face. It doesn’t speak down to its audience, but instead appreciates that the average cinema goer can follow a plot. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is one such film.
Based on John Le Carre’s novel, Tinker, Tailor follows British Intelligence veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman) as he comes out of retirement to uncover a Soviet mole at the very top of MI6. The main suspects are given codenames: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Poor Man. The fifth suspect however is Smiley himself. This shortlist of suspects leads to much tension and suspicion. The result is a slow burning, yet engrossing mystery that will keep those unfamiliar with the original novel guessing until the end.
Much praise has been lavished upon Gary Oldman’s performance in Tinker, Tailor and it is fair to say this praise is well deserved. A long overdue Oscar nomination must surely now be coming his way. Oldman has taken a character that comes across as being a fairly ordinary but intelligent man, and instils in him a silent intensity. There seems to be something constantly going on behind Smiley’s eyes. You can see the cogs in his mind turning as the plot steadily unravels. He is one of the most unassuming heroes in cinema since Gregory Peck brought Atticus Finch to life.
“Atticus Finch: the greatest hero in cinema.”
“Tough break Batman, Superman….. Jesus…”
While many are paying tribute to Oldman, much of the credit for Tinker, Tailor’s brilliance is due to director Tomas Alfredson. Best known for Let the Right One In, Alfredson provides more than a steady hand. In a film like this it is difficult to keep things interesting visually. Alfredson however succeeds in keeping things fresh and engaging (watch out for how he introducesBudapest). If Oldman deserves an Oscar nod, then the Academy must also honour Alfredson.
“Let the right one in. So not this one covered in blood then?”
The performances in Tinker, Tailor are great. The film is visually excellent. You will be hard pushed to find a film that is as tense, intelligent and engaging. And I don’t just mean this year. If you can think of a better, similar film since All the President’s Men, let me know, because I can’t. So go and see this.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time there is a flashback.
Take a Drink: every time someone looks suspicious
Take a Drink: whenever someone says a word from the film’s title
Drink a Shot: whenever someone gets shot