Why would I place the disclaimer in my review? Well, because most people do not like slow burn movies–you know–films that are quiet, subtle and deliberate. And Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (TTSS) is most definitely a slow burn! I LOVED IT!! Perfectly crafted, acted and executed. It is a story that takes its time–is complicated–and does not spoon feed its audience. If that does not appeal to you–(and that is not a judgement) do not watch this film because you probably won’t like it.
I believe that this is what true espionage must be like. Thinking. Solving puzzles. Staying smarter and one step ahead of your enemies. I am sure there are chases and fights–but most of the time, you have to out think your opponent, which you most likely will never meet. And this is what TTSS does so well, it highlights the paranoia, distrust and the intense nature of the spy business. There were moments that I was tense and nervous just listening to them talk.
Director Tomas Alfredson has done it again! His unique vampire story, Let the Right One In, was my #1 favorite film of that year and TTSS will be in my Top 10 of 2011. Alfredson is steady. He moves the story along carefully. By taking his time to set up mood and atmosphere he is able to increase the tension and suspense gradually and successfully. And the feel is rich and heavy–I loved the 35mm look of the film–it was a nice touch and made it feel like it was shot in the 1970s.
The writers (Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan) captured John le Carre‘s essence very well. I have read a few of his novels, but not TTSS, so this was a clean slate for me. I am glad I did not know what was going to happen because it kept the narrative engrossing for me from start to finish. This is so much more than just a mere “find the mole” story–well done!
Now for the cast. WOW!! It is the British royalty of Acting. Everyone (and I mean everyone) is absolutely brilliant! Colin Firth–Tom Hardy–Ciaran Hinds–John Hurt–etc, etc. But for me, it was a particular pleasure since my long time love, Gary Oldman and my new-found love, Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) were sharing the screen. I am willing to sound like a teenage girl when I say…OMG!! Deep sigh. Yes, clearly I am not objective when it comes to the demanding, superb presence of both these actors–they have a powerful effect on me. I can only hope tha Mr. Oldman will finally get some well over due Oscar attention. His portrayal of George Smiley may not be flashy or overly dramatic–but that is not the only criteria used to measure outstanding performances and Oldman’s Smiley is outstanding!
So, if you like spy thrillers and want to see a smart, intricate puzzle come together–check it out!