Monday, January 09, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Over the weekend I saw the new film version of John le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The film's emphasis is on its dreary & institutional atmosphere. Everything seems to happen on overcast winter days. If I hadn't already seen the 6-hour TV version, I doubt I could have followed the tortured plot. We often see only the negative space around events, making it even more opaque. We also have to absorb events out of sequence, & then there's a boozy office Christmas party that the film keeps returning to. Gary Oldman's performance as George Smiley is so calculatingly cold that it is practically non-existent. Afterward, I couldn't remember ever seeing the character move. The cast of venerable British actors may have been underutilized. My favorite moment came from Simon McBurney as a disapproving government bureaucrat, who butters a piece of toast & bites into it quite expressively.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
France, UK, Germany, 127 min


Gavin Plumley said...

I found the film adaptation refreshingly oblique. Blockbuster films force feed and signpost ad nauseam. This was a difficult study in bureaucracy and, I thought, superbly acted. My only complaint was that the casting of Colin Firth pointed out the villain of the piece almost immediately.

y2k said...

Your review makes me kind of glad that we chose The Descendants over Tinker Tailor... Sounds like we would have been scratching our heads throughout the movie (didn't read the book). Not that the Descendants was that great, but the Hawaii scenery and Hawaiian music make up for it.

Axel Feldheim said...

Gosh, did I make Tinker Tailor sound that bad? It is meticulously constructed & acted, but I found myself impatient with it. True about casting Colin Firth as the mole, but then the plot is so elided that we hardly get a chance to examine the other suspects.

Yes, The Descendants does seem to popular. Perhaps Y2K is right that people just enjoy looking at tropical scenery during the winter.