Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in which Smiley (Gary Oldman) is tasked with finding a soviet spy amongst the upper echelon’s of MI6, is pure class.
With a stoic lead performance from Gary Oldman, a performance allowing just two and a half displays of emotion, sets the tone in this slow and steady retelling of John le Carré’s now classic tale. As spy thrillers go this is definitely one of the most sedate. The story unfolds at a relaxed pace, no detail is rushed past and no flashback is over in a flash. With a pace this slow the film risks becoming boring, but the quality performances filling out every scene don’t allow for this to happen.
The subtle direction never wavers and refuses to get distracted by the action appearing on-screen. A scene featuring torture and murder is shot in exactly the same fashion as Gary Oldman returning home and walking through his house. It is such a thoroughly British film, one evoking a certain Izzard routine, it is surprising to find the director is Tomas Alfredson, the Swedish director of Let the Right One In.
Oldman is not alone in providing quality acting, the whole stellar cast shine in this no-frills production. Tom Hardy and Mark Strong are the best I’ve ever seen them, Colin Firth continues to carve out his position as a “proper actor”, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch are joyful to watch as ever and Kathy Burke is a little bit of a revelation. It feels like a genuine treat to see the best of British given the space to strut their stuff.
Where Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy leaves itself open to criticism in with the coherency of the plot. It wasn’t always clear exactly how a particular scene fit into the overall plot, and once the mole was revealed it felt as if any of the suspects could have been in the same position with almost no huge effect on the rest of the film.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a film of rare quality but is a little too emotionally detached to bring pure joy. Regardless, you are required to see it when released on 16th September 2011.