By Ben Hooper.
The tragic tale of a genius battling the Nazis, and his own demons.
While the story of Alan Turing – the father of computer science and cracker of the Enigma machine – is surely one worth telling, this white-male-triumph-over-adversity biopic is obvious awards-bait. As with fellow Best Picture nominee The Great British Biopic II: The Theory of Everything, there’s little in the way of directorial flourish from Headhunters’ Morten Tyldum – just a solid story brought to life by some fine performances.
Nevertheless, The Imitation Game isn’t totally devoid of visual flair, such as the shot of Turing’s machine cogs eloquently turning into the rolling wheels of a German tank.
But central to the film is Benedict Cumberbatch’s consummate portrayal of Turing; it’s an articulate and sensitive performance from the actor (although posh-and-awkward might not be a massive stretch for him). Equal to Turing’s vast intelligence is the film’s emotional intelligence, especially evident in the heartbreaking final scenes that see the unconventional hero brought to a tragic demise by the despicable anti-homosexuality laws of the period. Throughout, the film eschews the entanglement of sciencey-stuff in favour of empathy and poignancy.
Behind every great man, though, there’s a great woman, and Keira Knightley’s performance as Joan Clarke – Turing’s colleague, confidante, and integral cog in the code-cracking team – is one of great maturity. The cast is ably rounded out with a steely line-up of British actors doing their British actor thing (Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear), while Matthew Goode is the cheeky cad chancing to charm the nylons off any woman in a pencil-skirt personified.
The Imitation Game is a solid but safe tribute to an extraordinary man.
Now, where’s the one for the great woman behind him?…
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