Given the long shadow cast by 1979’s beloved, BAFTA-winning television adaptation, revisiting John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for the big screen might sound like a fool’s errand. So let us be grateful for fools like director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In), whose bracingly smart, exquisitely detailed film should instantly silence the sceptics and claim its rightful place among the very best le Carré on celluloid. The time is 1973 and the place is the MI6 nerve centre lovingly dubbed ‘The Circus’, where the recently (and forcibly) retired George Smiley (Gary Oldman) finds himself recalled to ferret out a mole working in the service of the Russian super spy known as Karla.
As usual with le Carré however, the film’s true subject is the messy personal and professional entanglements of these most human of secret agents. Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Hurt round out the superb supporting cast, but Tinker, Tailor turns on Oldman’s spellbinding performance. Screen-acting doesn't get much better than this. (Notes by Scott Foundas).