Saturday, January 10, 2015

A "Game" Where the Winner Loses

Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, Matthew Beard as Peter Hilton, Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander and Allen Leech as John Cairncross surround Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.
Bart, Mike, Matt and I went to see “The Imitation Game” last night — witty, intelligent, moving and sumptuously filmed. 
The film does a good job of suspensefully explaining what the Enigma codebreakers at Bletchley Park did to end World War II without resorting to math lessons. Yet another of those stories about a man who saves the world and is rewarded by society with destruction.
Here’s Matt’s review:
Bart Rettberg, Dan Hagen and I took in the 2014 dramatic thriller, "The Imitation Game, directed by Morten Tyldum and featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, and an ensemble of British actors, all of whom play their roles exceptionally. Cumberbatch is Alan Turing, the mathematical genius whose work to crack the ENIGMA code of Nazi Germany hastened the victory in Europe by a full two years and saved some 14 million lives -- and laid the groundwork for your laptop, smartphone, mobile GPS, really, anything involving a computer. Turing essentially invented computers.
The quest to develop a "digital computer" that can crack the ENIGMA code provides the backdrop against which another drama unfolds, this one centering around Turing's homosexuality and the role it played not only his development as a person, but also in his untimely demise. There was some small controversy among some circles because the film did not feature any homosexual sex scenes, and I think such scenes would have served no purpose to the film's narrative.
Instead, we see flashbacks to Turing's youth, his falling in love with Christopher, his only friend in his adolescent years, and his commitment to that love in his adult years, when he gives his thinking machine that very name. The film does not dance around Turing's sexuality, (he explicitly states he is homosexual plenty of times in the film to make that clear) nor does it shy away from the fact that his sexuality led to an ungrateful government charging him with indecency and sentencing him to a slow, miserable process of chemical castration.
Cumberbatch's performance is terrific and worthy of the accolades and nominations he has thus received to date -- I was particularly impressed with how he addressed and subtly performed Turing's stuttering speech impediment. Knightley is fantastic in her role as the female lead and fellow codebreaker who understands and cares for Turing unconditionally. Other notable performances include Mark Strong as the Chief of MI6, Rory Kinnear ('Skyfall, and the upcoming 'Spectre') as an overly inquisitive police detective, and Charles Dance (Game of Throne's Tywin Lannister).
The film also has a tremendous score imagined by Aleandre Desplat ('The Queen,' 'The King's Speech).
STARS: 3.5/4
P.S. Alan Turing committed suicide at the age of 41, only one year after being given his chemical castration sentence. As Dan Hagen pointed out, Turing is another in a list of historical figures whose contributions to the advancement of civilization cannot be understated and yet was crushed underfoot by civilization's own mores and prejudices.

1 comment:

  1. So AP film writer Lindsey Bahr thinks "Into the Woods" should have ended at the Happily Ever After point, officially making her/him/it one of the dumbest reviewers operating.