FILM: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Review (***)

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Film, Reviews
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is arguably the most well-made, well-produced film of the year. The writing is masterful, packing in what was previously a multi-part miniseries into a sleek two hour feature. The acting (Gary Oldman in particular) is nearly flawless and my personal pick for Best Ensemble Cast of the year. Director Tomas Alfredson recreates the world of London espionage set against the Cold War with realistic ease. Tinker Tailor is smart, smooth, and different from the usually loud Hollywood flare. But with two men snoring beside me, I’ll admit it’s not for everyone. Heck, I’m not even sure it’s for me.

Based on John le Carre’s novel of the same name, Tinker Tailor tells the story of George Smiley (Oldman) who comes out of retirement to search for a Soviet double-agent atop MI6, the British secret service. For the casual moviegoer, it’s Jason Bourne with more intrigue, but without the action — a two-hour whodunit based on interview revelations. Not surprisingly, the film gets really confusing though not the fault of its creators. The story itself is more properly made for a miniseries (which it was). And while it was an enormous feat for the writers to compact the narrative, I’m not sure it was necessary. If you’re a fan of the original series or spy stories, this is beyond your cup of tea. Tinker Tailor may be your Citizen Kane. But for the rest of us, there’s a lot of Huhs at best and snores at worst.

It’s a film I completely respect and liked very much. And while it was a film I wanted to love, it unfortunately was not. I wish it was spread out more. I wish the film was a little more accessible. I wish the casting decisions didn’t make the plot twist so predictable. But these are not factors that go against the masterful tone, beautiful script, and impressive acting that pegs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as one of the year’s finest.


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