Posted by: on Oct 11, 2011 | One Comment

Having not read the book, and not seen the TV series, I went into Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with no expectations whatsoever. I came out of the cinema with those non-expectations completely lived up to, and surpassed.

There’s no other way of saying it, this film is awesome. Acting, photography, attention to detail- all facets of the picture were polished and stylish. Gary Oldman, in his first starring role for 15 years, is fantastic, as he gives a masterclass in how to act without speaking. Indeed, not until the very end of the film does he even raise his voice at all. And yet, his soft-spoken characterization of British intelligence agent George Smiley manages to be patient, calculating, even intimidating, without so much as raising an eyebrow. The film was also helped by a stellar supporting cast, with Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, and BBC Sherlock Holmes Benedict Cumberbatch giving particularly memorable performances.

The filmmaking team, including director Tomas Alfredson, and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who both previously worked upon the critically successful vampire film Let the Right One In, do a wonderful, yet subtle job in creating the 1970s on camera, complete with grainy picture quality and Cold-War paranoia.

For those of you looking for the easy, action packed, cinematic ‘thrill rides’ that most modern spy films have become (think the Bourne series, the most recent James Bond films, and other such nonsense), this film is not it. The plot is very involved, and almost every scene is vital to the story. In fact there are only three or four gunshots in the entire film, and every one is significant.

I appreciate that this film is not for everyone, and many people that have seen it have come out of the experience thinking “Huh?”, but I urge you to give it a chance. Even if all the plot-threads are very easily tangled into a ball of confusion, the production value alone demands that you see this film.

Reviewed by Jim Haake