Director: Tomas Alfredson
Running time: 127 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 16th September 2011
Watched at the cinema Saturday 1st October 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Having seen the critical acclaim this has got I had to see it when it finally landed at The Picture House, my local cinema. I remember the TV adaptation of this John le Carré novel, starring Alec Guinness, being aired, but I never really watched it at the time. So it was all new to me and I have to say I was impressed. It’s not for everyone, it has quite a slow pace and there are no frenetic fight scenes, chase sequences or gun battles, it’s all very calm. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
It is the 1970’s and the cold war with Russia is at its height. Control has had word that there is a double agent at the top of the organisation and decides to leave, taking George Smiley with him. Some time later, Control is dead and George is asked to come back to find out who the mole is. He enlists the help of Peter Guillam, an agent, and former Special Branch Police officer, Mendel. The suspects are; Percy Alleline, Bill Haydon, Roy Bland and Toby Esterhase. The investigation begins by looking at an incident in Budapest involving another agent, Jim Prideaux, who was shot by Russian agents. Another source of information is Ricki Tarr who comes to George wanting to trade what he knows for the life of a Russian woman he has fallen for. There are plots within plots in this very complicated story and there’s no way I’m gonna give the game away or the Spoiler Police will have me marched off to Siberia as quickly as I can say ‘spy’.
Beautifully shot with really sharp imagery, I’m always impressed by that when I see a film on the big screen. The incidental music was good, but, for me, there wasn’t enough of it… many long silences in the dialogue. Moving on to performances, well, I have to say that Gary Oldman as George Smiley was superb! He really nailed it and went up a great deal in my estimation. I also thought the performances of; Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr, John Hurt as Control, Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux and Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam were all most excellent! I really hope at least one of them gets an Oscar… if not a BAFTA. Oh, it was also nice to see an appearance from Kathy Burke as Connie Sachs.
As I said at the beginning, this film will not suit everyone, it had a very complicated plot and it’s one you really have to concentrate on or you’ll miss something. Concentration was quite hard at the viewing I was at because it was quite hot and stuffy in there. Not to worry, I stayed awake for the duration and really enjoyed what I saw. It’s the kind of film, I think, you might have to watch a few times to get the little nuances put in there, little clues to the identity of the mole. Some of it is told in flashback and it can be a little confusing at times figuring out whether it’s a flashback or not… It certainly keeps you on your toes! I will certainly be seeing this again at some point. So, for those that like a good cold war thriller, a slow burning plot with many twists and turns, then this one comes very highly recommended.
My score: 9.1/10
IMDb Score: 708/10 (based on 2,892 votes when this review was written).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97/100 (based on 38 reviews counted when this review was written).
Ricki Tarr: Mr Guillam, I'm sorry I was out for so long.
[Guillam attacks Tarr]
George Smiley: Ricki's been helping us, Peter! He's been telling us all about his adventures.
Peter Guillam: He's a double, George! There is no mole! Irina's been locked up by Moscow!
[turns on Tarr]
Peter Guillam: I stole that, because of you! I spied on my own, because of him! Do you know how that makes me feel?
Control: I know that Moscow has planted a mole, and I know it is one of five men.
[starts placing out chess pieces with photos on them]
Control: Allenine: Tinker. Haydon: Tailor. Bland: Soldier. We leave out "Sailor", too much like "Tailor". Esterhase: Poorman.
Jim Prideaux: And the fifth?
Easterhase: [to Smiley] Things aren't always what they seem.
Official Site: http://www.tinker-tailor-soldier-spy.com/