THE IMITATION GAME

★★★

Dir: Morten Tyldum (2014)

The very machine I’m typing this on may not have been possible without the work of Alan Turing; Even the symbol (an apple with a bite taken out of it) eerily, yet coincidentally, shadows the great mathematician’s deeply sad final days. A genius, a code breaker, a war hero without firing a shot and a closeted homosexual, Turing was chemically castrated by the government for engaging in a “lewd act”; He finally committed suicide in his London house after injecting cyanide into a ripe green apple in 1954.

Morten Tyldum‘s prim and proper examination of a bullied Turing’s childhood and his war-time years with the famed Enigma Machine at Bletchley Park is The Imitation Game‘s primary focus; Benedict Cumberbatch excels as Alan, with just the tiniest hint of Sherlock, conveying intelligence and awkwardness with the simplest of glances, the smallest of movements. It’s brilliantly designed and paced, directed and acted but perhaps Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore should have widened their field of view slightly, removed the sticks from their bottoms and eliminated the slightly lighter take on Turing’s sexual preferences.

The rampant “by golly, we’ve got it!” tone is forever watchable though and The Imitation Game shows itself slowly as a well oiled machine. A surprisingly great Keira Knightly is there to lend a hand as Joan Clarke, Turing’s right hand woman, and with a brain on par, or even greater than his own. Unable to work along-side the men in the War Room, Tyldum uses the period’s treatment of women as a kind of mirror on Turing’s own eventual persecution; It’s an interesting idea but one which never really fully takes hold.

Charles Dance is rather hammy as the major with a bone to pick and Mathew Goode heaps on a sparkly eyed charm to counter balance Turing’s focused, deadpan Aspergers. While the other code breakers do their best, all getting a moment in the spot light, no one is really big enough to get out of the commanding Cumberbatch shadow. It’s a fine performance which delicately (maybe too delicately) gives us a precise and brilliant character, driven by logic, unemotional, perhaps to a fault. Both the man and the film in a nutshell; It could well turn the notoriously stuffy academy’s heads and win him the best actor Oscar, though.        

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