Any film that has both Gary Oldman and Colin Firth in it was always going to be a film I’d go and see.
Before I saw it, I’d heard it had received mixed reviews. Critics liked it while the general public didn’t. I don’t if that’s true, but in the group I went with most liked it, a few didn’t because it didn’t make sense and a lot of us said we had to concentrate more than usual.
I thought the story was great. Anything about spies, the Cold War and double agents appeals to me. It was unusual though because it didn’t contain a lot of action except for an early scene. It was very subtle, packed with information all found in a fairly safe environment and yet there was an intense feeling of menace which grew as they got closer to discovering answers.
The setting was good, very atmospheric, and the acting was brilliant, especially Oldman. At the start of the film he appeared to be a tired old man who moved and even talked slowly. By the end, he was smart, quick, strong and dangerous. The pace picked up and raced toward the conclusion.
I did have to pay attention very carefully. I found the number of names and important tidbits bandied about a little confusing. Although, keeping up with the plot was challenging in a couple of places, I never resented the extra effort. In fact it was satisfying in comparison to the melodramatic, subtle as a sledgehammer plots we are usually forcefed by Hollywood directors, who seem to find it necessary to shove the plot up our noses and signal who the bad guys are in a very obvious manner. They are dumbed down to suit our ever shortening attention spans. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy demanded concentration and thought and I liked it for this reason. I can understand if some people disliked it for the same reason. Sure, it was not relaxing, but hey, I like a film that doesn’t treat me like snivelling idiot.