“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
Sometimes it is the extremely brilliant people who have the hardest time assimilating into society. This brilliant person in The Imitation Game is Englishman Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a renowned mathematician and logician, among other titles. In the early 1940’s, the war between the Allied and Axis powers continues to be fought, with the Axis powers currently having a major advantage due to the impenetrable Enigma code utilized by Nazi Germany.
To seize momentum away from the enemy, the code must be cracked, which is where Turing and his intellect comes to the forefront. With time not the side of the Allies, the British government puts together the country’s brightest individuals like Turing, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), and others to devise a solution. To compound the stress of essentially being responsible for the direction the war goes, Alan harbors a secret: He is a homosexual in a time and place that doesn’t support people of this ilk.
The story of Alan Turing seems to be a largely unknown one, which The Imitation Game sheds light upon via the silver screen. Helmed by director Morten Tyldun, the passion and care towards this project is very noticeable, and all in all it is pretty solid. Aside from telling the story of the gifted individual, this also seems to exist for a pretty clear goal: getting those award nominations.
By no means is The Imitation Game a terrible movie, far from it really. Again, Tyldun exhibits much care and attention to detail with regards to the screenplay. While not being familiar with the man, nothing that appeared here struck yours truly as being too embellished or completely shoehorned in. It is Hollywood, taking liberties here and there but not necessarily abusing them. In a surprise, the movie carries a totally natural humor that helps to minimize the heaviness.
Additionally, the director really nails the feel and atmosphere of 1940’s England, from speech to dress to lighting to exterior. Being shot on location most likely made this a slightly easier feat, but still, it takes skill to get the past right in an aesthetic sense on screen. The production is of great quality, as is the introspective and moving score put together by Alexandre Desplat, who has quite the notable and diverse 2014 with scoring Godzilla, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and now this.
Sticking with the look at the screenplay however, there are a few qualms. For all of the focus that Tyldun brings to telling the story and its consistent pacing, there is a lack of both in the final part of the film, to the point where it actually becomes haphazard and somewhat harder to follow. Also (and this may be a very personal feeling) the story simply isn’t all that interesting or intriguing. In no way am I diminishing what Turing did, it is just that his story may not be one, as a whole, that lends itself to film effortlessly. The story is compelling in moments, but also stuck in molasses here and there, being just as drab as the well-crafted scenery.
Much like another flick taking a look at a brilliant man’s life and events, The Imitation Game features a brilliant performance from a man who portrays the main character. What Benedict Cumberbatch is able to do here is pretty riveting. He is a guy to get behind because of why he is doing this, but he is clearly also a difficult guy to be around on a daily basis, either intentionally or unintentionally. The performance is precise and systematic, full of attention to detail. Cumberbatch is one of the best working in the industry today.
Lending some star power to the cast is Keira Knightley, starring as Joan Clarke. While she is good in her role, there isn’t a ton of note here, and the previous allusions made by yours truly with regards to embellishment apply here. The relationship between Clarke and Turing in this feels more romanticized than it probably was, and while the movie occasionally hints at this, it seems to want it both ways, wanting there to be something but nothing at the same time. Adding another level of star power is Mark Strong, who despite his tough appearance, turns in mellow and amusing work as an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service. The rest of the cast comprising of Turing’s colleagues are definitely serviceable and do what is needed when asked.
Anchored by rock-solid acting by Benedict Cumberbatch and with what would appear to be a mostly grounded telling of Turing, his difficulties, and his tide-turning accomplishment, The Imitation Game is a nice, albeit a bit dry, look at a World War II story that probably gets lost in the bigger rubble more than it should.
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Seems like a lot of mixed reviews on this one. Ive got it on my list. Nice review as always.
Would love to hear your thoughts on it. To me, it is sort of similar to The Theory of Everything, but less sappy. Thanks for the comment man!
It’s on my list to see. So many movies so little time. Ha. I haven’t even seen Theory of Everything yet!
Very fair mate. A very solid movie although it really shouldn’t be talked about in ‘Best Film’ conversations.
Thanks for stopping by! Being that I still need to see some of the big ones that have been, may be, or will be nominated for Best Film (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Selma, etc, I’m not ready to say if it should definitely be there or not.
With that said, I’ve been Birdman, The Theory of Everything, and this, and only Birdman so far is truly great from a best picture sense of the three in my opinion. All three do have wonderful performances though.
Great work MMJ! I look forward to accessing this soon; although unfortunately yes the reviews seem to be dampening a bit as the Oscars ceremony approaches. Seems like The Imitation Game doesn’t do quite a bang-up job of imitating real life. Then again, what movies (that aren’t documentaries) do? 🙂
Really appreciate it Tom. Though I’ve heard of some inaccuracies, they don’t feel all that noticeable or completely made up. You’ll want to watch at least for Cumberbatch. Looking forward to your thoughts one day.
Yeah, Cumberbatch is most definitely what attracts me. Love what the guy has been doing.
I honestly have not seen the Benedict guy in a single film. Goddamn I miss a lot. Desplat did the OST did he? That makes it worth seeing already, plus the story intruiges me. WWII stories always have. Though the whole plot does seem a little like Oscar-bait to me. I look forward to being able to watch this…. next year when it finally screens in Australia.
Nice review mate, I have a good idea of what to expect now.
Solid review. Checking this one out this weekend. Pretty anxious to see it.
Nice review! I really want to see this, hopefully soon. I agree Cumberbatch is one of the best actors out right now.
He’s on another level. Thanks for your thoughts!
Wonderful review.. I simply put..loved the movie. Gave it an A ; think it should be up for best pic hands down. The performances by all were good..but Cumberbatch most especially was GREAT! Even Keira Knightley who gave us 2 of the worst films of the year, was good for me. It’s also the only movie that moved me to tears…twice..worse the 2nd time actually,.and I’m not a cry-er..ha! Sure there can be discrepancies..that’s why it said ‘based on a true story’. I mean wait till you see Selma..while also a powerful movie..takes on many of what it feels should be ..instead of what really happened. So..for me..right at this moment..my top 3 are Birdman, Whiplash & The Imitation Game. the only two I haven’t seen is Unbroken & American Sniper out of everything. And next week I do all the foreign films screenings in one week..so I won’t have a full list ready for a bit. I’m just glad we pretty much agree on almost every film so far.. 😀 yay! Happy New Year!!
Happy New Year to you as well! Love hearing your thoughts throughout.
I was really disappointed by this. It was a pretty dull effort all around, except from the actors; the script was bland, the various timelines were unneeded, and the characters never seemed to be move beyond cliches or manufactured tension. Fascinating story to tell, but not a great way of telling it. Glad it was told, though.
“Also (and this may be a very personal feeling) the story simply isn’t all that interesting or intriguing. ”
I felt the same, but I think it was more the result of the film and its storytelling style itself more so than the story, which I feel could definitely be much more compelling in the hands of someone else.
Thanks polarbears! I definitely believe it is worth a view and I generally liked it, but it did certainly seem to miss something.