TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a film of slow pace but incredible intensity. It’s a cold, meticulous, no-nonsense espionage story (based on the eponymous 1974 novel by John le Carré) that is also one of those proverbial ‘easy to admire, difficult to love’ cases. Well, art should be different – as long as it remains good art.
It’s Britain, time of The Cold War, and the plot revolves around a secret Russian agent inside The Circus (another name of British Intelligence). George Smiley (one of Gary Oldman’s classiest performances ever), who formerly had to retire from The Circus, is summoned by a member of Civil Service to figure out who the mole is. ‘Tinker’, ‘Tailor’, ‘Soldier’, ‘Poorman’ and ‘Beggarman’ (codenamed so by Control, the former chief of The Circus) are the five suspects Smiley has to consider (Beggarman actually being him). What ensues is a sequence of intricate shenanigans, agents, half-clues and undercurrents you have to keep track of. The film is masterfully acted (Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch are all brilliant and to the point), and has an unmistakable retro feel to it which nonetheless doesn’t distract you from the rather frustrating, rather unsettling relevance of the whole thing.
Overall, there’s no getting away from the fact that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy looks both compelling and kind of empty. Emotionally, it does not connect – doesn’t even try. But the classy smarts it delivers are very classy indeed.