What I Saw: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The movies have led us to believe that being a spy often involves bravado, fast-paced chase scenes and grandiose explosions. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy offers a different perspective, drawn from the ideas of discretion, paperwork and remaining under the radar. I’m very grateful to several of my readers who warned me that the film is a complex one that you need to pay attention to, and I arrived at the theater fully alert and ready to follow along.
I was reasonably able to keep up with all the twists and turns, and walked out feeling that I had understood all of the character rationales, but I still wonder whether the film might be better on a second viewing than on the first one. I left knowing that I had enjoyed the ride and watched George Smiley (Gary Oldman) solve the puzzle, but suspecting that there may have been visual clues early on that might have made the solution feel more like a certainty. The film put those clues together for me in the end, but it felt like an exposition of the solution, rather than something that the audience was expected to piece together ourselves.
Oldman himself gives a subtle performance, but really has only one particularly profound scene that fits into the “Oscar clip” tradition. With the exception of Mark Strong and Tom Hardy, the rest of the supporting cast was intentionally kept at an emotional distance, which heightened the secrecy and is likely an accurate depiction of men involved in this line of work, but unfortunately this relative anonymity also made it difficult for me to remember which character was which.
For a film set in the 1970’s, it was refreshing to see an admission that there were gay and bisexual agents in the bureau, even if they had to keep their identities on the down low, but I was somewhat disappointed that [SPOILER ALERT] the trope of bisexuality was used to reinforce the idea that one character could not be trusted to take sides. [End of Spoilers]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was nominated for three Oscar categories, and had previously been on my long list for several others. Currently I am not predicting that it will in any gold statues, although it would not surprise me if it took home a few BAFTA awards, where it was nominated in 11 categories.
Lead Actor: Gary Oldman (currently ranked 4)
Original Score: Alberto Iglesias (currently ranked 4)
Adapted Screenplay: Bright O’Connor and Peter Straughaun (currently ranked 5)
As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!
My Lamb Score: 3 out of 5 Lambs
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