Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Slow-burn TV in the shape of The Wire and Boardwalk Empire has
provided a welcome antidote to Hollywood’s reluctance to create dense,
complex dramas, so it’s heartening to see that the small-screen’s
influence is finally seeping into cinema. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy –
about retired superspy George Smiley brought back into the “firm” to
root out a Soviet agent – is a case in point.
Swedish director Tomas
Alfredson brings a chilly detachment to the action in this absorbing
drama that is punctuated by bouts of sadistic, ultra-real violence.
Oldman plays top spook George Smiley with a preternatural stillness
that is unnerving. But there’s a lot going on behind his dull, weary
eyes as he grapples with the moral conundrums thrown up by the demands
of his job to safeguard Britain’s security against the Russians. Tom
Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch put in equally riveting performances as
agents chasing their tails.
The main problem with the film is that
the labyrinthine narrative of John Le Carre’s source novel can barely be
contained within its two hours of running time. Despite the film’s
snail pace, the plot points come thick and fast, barely allowing the
viewer time to process them. But as a study of the dissembling and
double dealing that characterises the murky underworld of intelligence
gathering, TTSS is superlative. It may be set in the 1970s, during the
Cold War, but the recent, shocking revelations that M16 agents allegedly
shopped dissidents of Gaddafi’s brutal regime to the despot himself,
makes this film feel all the more immediate.
Good for: Lovers of serious, slow-burn cinema that commands your full attention.
Also out this week:
How Does She Do It?
Brilliant and funny as Carrie in the Sex In The City TV series, Sarah
Jessica Parker is wasted on the big screen, which, more often than not
sees her pitching up in woeful comedies – the SATC movies included.
Might this flick be an exception? Based on Allison Pearsons’s novel,
Parker plays Kate Reddy, a woman juggling kids, a high-flying career and
a hubby. A comedy for the “have-it-all” generation.