I vividly remember reading about this film around the web and a favorite blog. Of course, knowing Benedict Cumberbatch (a.k.a. Sherlock Holmes) leads the cast made me make it a must-see “need” to watch it. However, until quite recently, I’d still not seen this one. Fortunately, the wait is worth it.
The Imitation Game (2014) Film Review
Winning World War II looks bleak, and even for the most clever of minds, beating the Germans seems unlikely. This is why the intelligence community puts together a team of brilliant minds to do the impossible: break the German’s code. Their top recruit is mathematician, Alan Turing (Cumberbatch), a brilliant man ready to give his all to this project. Only Alan sees the solution to the codes as being something very different than those who work alongside him. Instead of the painstaking methods they use, Alan sees a mechanical machine as the answer. Much to the resentment of his colleagues, he sets about building it.
As a man, with a very dangerous secret, unable to connect with the world around him, Alan’s colleague’s resent him. They see what he’s doing as insignificant while they do the real work. But as Alan persists to a point of madness, each of them, including Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), and with the encouragement of his confidant, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), support what Alan is doing. But as it turns out, even with professional success, Alan’s most harrowing challenges have yet to find him.
It’s rare that I see a film that leaves me with all-encompassing feeling of a well-done production. From the moment The Imitation Game opens with Benedict’s voice over (which also acts as a narrative of the story, so it starts at a later point and returns to “how it all began”) to the brilliant cast, everything inside this BBC production is proof of an exceptional drama. This opening voice over “sets the tone” for the rest of the film; it’s an enigma just like the code Alan is recruited to break.
A good script can be undermined by a bad cast, and vice versa. Fortunately, The Imitation Game suffers no such fate. The cast is dynamite. From the supporting cast which also includes Mark Strong (A&E’s Emma) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) to the leads, there’s no weak link among them. Since the last few roles I’ve seen her take on haven’t been win (in my opinion), it’s lovely to see Keira play a complex character. Then there’s Alan. His story is, undoubtedly, at the crux of this film. It’s through his story that we feel that sense of awe, inspiration and eventually, some sense of injustice. His sacrifices and incredible mind save countless lives, and undoubtedly help the war effort in ways we can’t imagine. Naturally, Cumberbatch plays this role brilliantly, delivering a multi-dimensional performance that’s mesmerizing.
There was some question, prior to the release of this film, about the direction of the script. Filmmakers chose to focus more on the obsessive importance Alan’s work is to him than that of his social life. I thought this a wise decision. It bolsters the film without sacrificing the meaning Alan’s work and life had during the war effort. I also find Joan and Alan’s attachment a particularly interesting distraction. There is some controversy surrounding their relationship, but from the little I’ve read, it seems a fair depiction of an unexpected friendship that was, in its own way, as beautifully loving as it is bittersweet.
Those who like The King’s Speech or Benedict Cumberbatch as an actor (that’s reason enough, right?) will appreciate this. Of course, it’s more than just its cast though it’s this that helps make this film the success it is. Not to mention, it’s also fascinating to see the first computer being imagined. Nominated for a handful of Oscars (and a win), it’s not hard to concede the brilliance of this film. Clocking in at just under two hours, nothing ever lags nor does the film feel like an advocate for anything other than the historical story it’s here to impart. Something of a surprise to me, it makes the experience that unfolds all the more poignant.
(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)
You can find The Imitation Game (2014) digitally on Amazon Video‘The Imitation Game’: The Remarkable WWII True Story. A review of the film with Benedict Cumberbatch. #Movies #WWII #History Click To Tweet
CONTENT: Alan is a homosexual, so there are some references to his sexual orientation. Flashbacks to his school days show he’s friendly with one of his classmates (notes is as far as it goes). During these flashbacks, there is some bullying (shoving someone beneath floorboards); and there might be the common sprinkling of minor profanity. The film is PG13.
Note: this review was published in the archives five or more years earlier. Since moving to WordPress, 90% of the reviews, lists and articles need re-formats and/or other updates. Updated edits and changes to fit current formats have been made; it has also been updated with new photos, and republished.
Originally published April 29 2016