Every now and again a film appears, that without seeing it people are assured of its quality, impeccable style and class. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of them. Based on the 1974 novel by John Le Carré, Tinker Tailor is centered around George Smiley’s (Gary Oldman) experience of the cold war and his escapades within ‘The Circus’, the highest echelon in the SIS. Through flashbacks and current time events we see Smiley trying to point out the mole within the organization.
With an impeccable array of actors, ranging from the newly christened king of British cinema, Colin Firth to Shakespearean veterans like John Hurt and Ciaran Hinds my money would be on at least three nominations from this film by default. When you get a period piece smouldering with the Secret Service and Russian spies mixed with the best and brightest of British cinema, there’s really nothing that can go wrong, right?
Well, not really. All in all Tinker Tailor shows mastery in cinematography and mood. It’s highly stylistic, relying on a slow, cumulative storytelling that rewards the patient viewer. It’s complex and multilayered, and at no point falls to the shortcomings of blockbustery, dumbing itself down in order to appeal to a wider audience. It’s smart and surprising, without getting too serious.
On the outside Tinker Tailor holds the keys to becoming an instant classic but for some reason, it didn’t hit the jackpot with me. It’s possible that Tinker Tailor is one of those ones you have to watch again and again to truly appreciate its subtle prowess, but no instant umph it has. Sometimes people call it ‘the certain something’, that extra vigour that makes you feel alive, excited and passionate.
Of course, this doesn’t in anyway take away from the actors, who all deliver but there are two who I believe deserve to be especially hailed for the roles; Mark Strong and Tom Hardy (if you were looking for me to name Oldman and Firth, you’re in the wrong place). Strong’s portrayal of Jim Prideaux is a silent yet srtong performance by a guy who gets way too little recognition, whilst being truly prolific and consistent in his work. Hardy on the other hand, ones again proves what a breath of fresh air he can be to a film, as he plays Ricki Tarr’s wide range of states.
Deserving, and in need of a second viewing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is. As it’s storyline is complicated and filled with excellent characters, at times it can be hard to keep up with. Because it’s slow, not everyone would have patience for it (a girl sitting behind me endured for the first hour and 50 minutes, giving up right before the last dramatic fifteen .. who does that?).
I have to say, Tomas Alfredson is starting to gather quite the CV for himself. The Swedish talent broke onto the scene with Låt den rätte komma in (Let The Right One In), highly praised as one of the best genre films of recent years. He hasn’t announced his next move yet, but whatever it is, I’ll by on the edge of my seat waiting, salivating.
With Tinker Tailor, the Oscar season has begun, and has been given a well worthy start.
8 / 10
You Will Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy If…
– you are prepared for acting talent galore.
– the perfect balance of style and substance seems intriguing to you.
– you want to place your Oscar betting odds early.