THE IMITATION GAME opened this weekend and the film had rave reviews far beforethepublicevenhad the chance to view it. The dramatic portrayal of the life and work of Britain’s most extraordinary disregarded heroes AlanTuringstarsBenedictCumberbatch ( STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, THE FIFTH ESTATE),KeiraKnightley (BEGIN AGAIN, ATONEMENT, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE), Matthew Goode ( STOKER), and Mark Strong (TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY.)MortenTyldum (HEADHUNTERS) directs from a screenplay written by Graham Moore,whichis based on the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma ” by Andrew Hodges.
The film takes us back in time to the life of Alan Turing to Sherborne School in Dorset, England in 1927 where a then 15-year old Turing is shy, awkward and bullied until a 16-year old boy named Christopher comes to his rescue and the two form a life long bond. We are transported to Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, England in 1939 where Turing arrives at the heavily guarded Victorian mansion for a meeting with the head of a top-secret Government Code and Cypher School, Naval Commander Alastair Denniston. We also travel to the winter of 1952 where British authorities are sent to the home of Turing to investigate a reported burglary.
One of the wonderful things about THE IMITATION GAME is the very structure of the film, rather than watch each part of Turing’s life sequentially, we are given glimpses back and forth to the different time frames without the feel of flashbacks, nor do you get lost or have trouble following. It is used as a glimpse into Turing’s soul and the way his mind works around the memories he has, given the situations he is handed. The way Tyldum tells the story makes it that much more intense and almost haunting in a way that makes you feel almost as helpless as Turing does throughout the course of his life. It is done brilliantly and prevents the viewer from ever getting bored and keeps you wanting more. With each glimpse into his life you are given an emotion that you don’t get in most films, whether it is while he is a child feeling awkward and not understanding the difference between deciphering code and a simple conversation or it is watching him interact with the men he is forced to work with, you feel as uncomfortable in your own skin as he does his.
When you see him as a child you see his awkwardness and can instantly tell that he is a bit different than everyone else, his brain works in a way few minds do and he has a hard time understanding the normalcy of life but is bored by the mundane schoolwork at hand. This awkwardness carries on with him in life, he is an introvert who takes things rather seriously and quite literally. While you think he is not understanding the joke he is really just bored by it and can come across rather arrogant as seen in the meeting with Commander Denniston. By the time we see him again in 1952 he is worn and tired with what seems to be little left to live for.
Watching Cumberbatch take on Turing was watching pure genius at work, from his mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, anything you think you know of Cumberbatch is gone and you are left with only the remnants of the brilliant Alan Turing. The progression and layers of his character are brilliantly portrayed. It is when we see Cumberbatch alongside Knightley, that we truly get a glimpse into the man Turing could become, he is softer, kinder and feels comfortable not only around her but in his own skin. Knightley holds her own next to Cumberbatch as Joan Clarke a woman chosen to help break the code that is the Enigma, the two give Oscar worthy performances. The relationship between Turing and Clarke is beautiful and heartbreaking to watch.
There are moments in the film that will make you cry, others that will make you laugh, and some may even make you angry. It is these emotional reactions that you have as a viewer that make this film spectacular. This film is about as good as it gets when it comes to a dramatic portrayal of someone’s life, while most films like this tend to start slow and seem to take forever to build, the fact that you are engaged from start to finish is what sets this film apart from the rest. THE IMITATION GAME is by far a 1o out of 10 and has Oscar Contender written all over it. I would love to see it nominated for Best Film, Best Actor (Cumberbatch), and Best Supporting Actress (Knightley.) THE IMITATION GAME is a beautiful and heartfelt film that will take your breathe away.