THE IMITATION GAME
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
The last film review of 2014 goes towards a great movie of intellect, drama, and fervor. The Imitation Game isn't your run-of-the-mill biopic, choosing instead to focus on a specific brilliant moment in the life of Alan Turing and pick apart the surroundings that brought him there. Directed by Morten Tyldum, the film is a testament to the exploration of a character without jeopardizing the sake of a good story. Pieced together with fantastic imagery, The Imitation Game is a solid piece of cinema and much better than that other WWII film currently screening (looking at you Unbroken).
In the midst of WWII Great Britain was scatterbrained trying to eliminate Nazi forces, protect its people, and bring an end to the war. Instead of advancing on any of those fronts, British military continued to be sideswiped at every angle. It wasn't until secret intelligence was able to smuggle in an Enigma machine from Berlin that they began a long, tedious journey towards victory. Having the machine was only part of the battle, though. Without knowing which type of encryption was being used day to day, the Brits had no way of unscrambling any helpful messages. The odds of figuring out the code were unrealistic, as the code changed daily. Hiring puzzle-solvers like Turing ended up being the best answer, despite harsh beginnings. Turing, played effortlessly by Benedict Cumberbatch, wasn't the easiest to collaborate with. While he may have been book smart, his social etiquette needed practice. With a team of brilliant scholars by his side, Turing was successfully able to build a machine that would defeat the odds of deciphering the code, leading to the end of the war.
As heroic as it sounds, Turing's victories and successes were quickly overshadowed by his personal struggles and public oppressions. Hinted at through clever flashbacks, Turing's homosexuality became a topic of public concern shortly after the end of the war. Tyldum approaches the subject with care and respect. Turing's emotional revelations of when he first loved and how that affected his life later on are heartbreaking. The shame isn't in his life, it's in how a hero of the great war was treated after the fact.
The film belongs every bit to Cumberbatch's performance. The subtle hints of intelligent madness and accidental humor highlight the, already brilliant, story. Keira Knightley, as fellow codebreaker and almost love interest, Joan Clarke, provides the perfect amount of spunky attitude and flirtatious support. Despite the film being set in the early 1940's, the film feels like a classic film from the same era, thanks to the physical sights like costumes and sets, and also the beautiful score by Alexandre Desplat.
The Imitation Game sets out from the beginning to be a story about loyalty and wit. It's smart enough to succeed at showing both, and leveled enough to appeal to multiple types of audiences. It's an intelligent picture that looks and sounds great. Whether the film goes on to wins awards or not, Tyldum has a classic on his hands.
Runtime: 114 minutes