Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyFeature Film |
Chillingly and intelligently condenses le Carré's Cold War classic.
"Trust no one," John Hurt's character, Control, tells an underling early on in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, "especially not in the mainstream." This smart, slow-paced adaptation of John le Carré's novel distinguishes itself from "the mainstream" in its intelligence, and in crediting its audience with patience and perceptiveness. The film takes its methodical cue from its protagonist, George Smiley (a wonderfully subdued Gary Oldman), who acts with assurance, but whose quiet efficiency could conceivably be mistaken for passivity, if one wasn't paying attention. Just look at Smiley's "reaction" when Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), a trusted cohort, wrongheadedly assaults another, Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy). Faced with this emotional outburst, Smiley barely raises an eyebrow. Densely plotted though it may be, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's icily compelling adaptation can't possibly capture the vivid detail and characterizations of le Carré's classic Cold War espionage tale. But it does a creditable job of capturing Smiley. Set in the early 1970s amid the internecine squabbling of England's embattled "Circus" after Control and Smiley are forced out, the movie details Smiley's efforts to find a mole in the upper echelons of British intelligence. With the film's hapless cynicism, smoothly gliding camera, and the score's mournful trumpet wailing, Alfredson is clearly embracing a politically dissolute '70s vibe here, and he does a credible job of evoking that era.
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