Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Once-in-a generation film classic - Patrick McLaren
It is now a generation since the fall of the Berlin Wall and many young people today have no personal experience of what it was like to live under the shadow of the Cold War. Looking back, it may seem like a time when nothing much really happened as compared, say, with the first half of the twentieth century. Quite a lot went on then - two world wars mainly. That there was not a third is due largely to the forgotten men - and they were mostly men - who for decades fought a hidden conflict behind the scenes, while leaving the rest of us to get on with our lives. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy tells their story, perhaps the first film to really do justice to such a murky period in recent history.
Swedish director Tomas Alfredson choreographs his stellar cast through their intricate manoeuvres with a flair that recalls Coppolla in his heyday. And what a cast. The frontline team of Oldman, Firth, and Hurt are supported by a fine array of players that includes Benedict Cumerbatch, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy and Kathy Burke. Comparisons are invidious, but the second row really put it up to their more distinguished colleagues in terms of sheer quality of performance. One can imagine an entire movie being built around Hardy's character, for instance, such is the depth of his portrayal. Burke is a revelation in her one big scene for anyone who knows her only from her work with Harry Enfield. Benedict Cumberbatch enhances his reputation further with his well-rounded portrayal of the closest thing to a James Bond in the movie. But of these four, it is Mark Strong who leaves the most lasting impression as the 'everyman' spy who quietly does his duty to the very end.
That leaves the heavyweights. Hurt is reliable as ever in his portrayal of the tired Control trying to save his 'circus'. Firth plays against type as the seedy playboy for whom the Cold war is almost a game. Then there is Gary Oldman, who for many years seemed to have been first choice when a director needed someone to play a psychopath who shouts a lot. Batman Begins showed us he could do 'normal'. Now, he is revealed as the magnificently nuanced actor he always was. Oldman as Smiley is the calm centre to the storm swirling around him. He hardly speaks at all for the first twenty minutes. He barely raises his voice for the remainder of the film. Yet he acts everyone else off the screen. He has to be a cert for Best Actor Oscar.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy echoes those gritty sixties espionage thrillers, like The Ipcress File, that showed us a more realistic and mundane alternative to 007. But it is in a class of its own. The recreation of its seventies milieu is meticulous, bad hairstyles, awful fashion, big spectacles included. Alberto Iglesias' jazzy score completes the atmosphere. But this is Alfredson's movie. He has managed the very difficult feat of making this viewer forget the classic eighties TV adaptation starring Alec Guinness. He was created a work of art that transcends its genre and demonstrates how amazing mainstream cinema can occasionally be.
Review published on the 17 September 2011 19:11
The opinions expressed here are those of the viewer and do not reflect those of Entertainment.ie. Entertainment.ie accepts no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for their accuracy of content. Please contact us to report abusive content
More uLike Viewer Reviews
Character driven spy drama - ging-grr
This movie shows the grittier, less glamorous and dare I say it but most likely truer side of the British Secret Service. You won't find a James Bond like character anywhere in this story of cold war... MORE
21 November 2011 20:57
not impressed - Sarah
This film was geared up to be the spy thriller of the year, and it was a major let down for me. Not only is it slow and deliberate and drawn out (unnecessarily), none of the fantastic cast (all of... MORE
09 October 2011 23:45
Best film of the year so far. - Andy Millea
Absolutely fantastic film, its great that films aimed at intelligent adults are still been made by someone, its a great change from the overhyped cgi rubbish and crass "comedies" that makes up 99% of... MORE
23 September 2011 01:14
Good, but the story best suits a tv series format - Eoghan Bolger
Tinker tailor soldier spy. Tinker tailor soldier spy is a spy thriller by Thomas Alfredson, it stars John Hurt, Colin Firth and Gary Oldman and is two hours long. The plot sees an older, aged spy... MORE
22 September 2011 00:20
lot of promnise but ultimately just not exciting or tense enough - Colm2305
Maybe it was the lack of air con and a packed theatre causing uncomftorable heat in Cineworld Parnell Street, maybe it was the guy munching loudly on popcorn behind me, or maybe i'm just an idiot,... MORE
21 September 2011 10:35
Proof of parallel universe ?! - jack brown
This movie has been highly rated and hyped by many reviewers ( who live on different universe than general public ) An absolute waste of time !.I was expecting a sophisticated cold war spy thriller... MORE
17 September 2011 23:07