Friday, December 12, 2014

The Imitation Game: Movie Review


Codes, war and homosexuality in an interesting balancing act.
A bio-pic of English Mathematician Alan Turing (played here by Benedict Cumberbatch),  The Imitation Game  has to juggle his extreme ego (probably played up for the purposes of entertainment), his achievements of solving the Enigma code and winning World War II for the Allies, and his homosexuality – a crucial element that makes the interesting film engaging and emotionally-affecting. Focusing on the war years, the film achieved the critical balance. 2014

Directed by: Morten Tyldum

Screenplay by: Graham Moore
Based on the book by Andrew Hodges

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode

The introduction of Alan Turing establishes his intelligence but does so with arrogance, condescension, smugness and every other anti-social trait that audiences have come to love about all of their super-smart TV heroes. The writers have clearly watched  The Big Bang Theory  and their insistence that the irrascible genius routine is funny wears thin quickly. But luckily fellow mathematician Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) doesn't stand for his superciliousness and the audience has another person on their side.

(L-R) Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict
Cumberbatch, and Allen Leech star in THE IMITATION GAME.
Photo Credit: Elevation Pictures/Jack English
Turing goes to work for the British government's codebreaking centre. He and four other men are tasked with breaking German ciphers to help the Allies predict future attacks and ultimately lead them to victory. As stated earlier, Turing doesn't play well with others and he's off on his own developing his Turing Machine. He also gets to hire new recruits.

The film takes another turn for the better with the introduction of Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke. A young woman excelling in a field not suited for women. She aces Turing's test of puzzle solving and is off to work at Bletchley Park, except she's not allowed. While it is a minor part of the film, the examination of a woman's diminished status in society is always interesting to watch unfold. Especially because Knightley's Joan accepts what is expected of her but still knows how to get what she wants.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Imitation Game.
Photo credit Elevation Pictures/Jack English
As Turing's work on his Enigma breaking machine reaches a critical point, so does the personal life of the complicated genius. His homosexuality is actually punishable by British law, and he's either going to become a war hero, be jailed for indecency, or some worse combination of the two.

We don't get to see how Turing built his machine and barely how it works, but we do get to see how he breaks the unbreakable German code. Oh, and there might be Russian spies abounding, and budding love stories unfolding to round out an already interesting story.

While there are definitely elements present of how to manipulate the audience, the story and film are compelling. It's interesting and the atrocities of 1940s and 50s British law easily drive the film into the 21st century.
Best of 2014

Similar Titles:

The Theory of Everything (2014) - The dramatic and turbulent life of Stephen Hawking.