REVIEW: “The Imitation Game”

I’ve been doing my best to see more movies in the theater. For as much as I love awards season, I usually don’t see the nominated films before the awards ceremonies. I’d wait for them to come out on DVD or hit cable. But, I want to change that routine. I’d like to be more informed when the awards are on…so that my ballot is based on what I’ve seen rather than what I’ve heard.

This year, I’m using the buzz that I’m hearing about movies to make sure I’m seeing them ASAP. I’m using the Golden Globe nominations to assist me…and I’ll do the same when the Oscar nominations are out. So far, there’s been a lot of buzz about The Imitation Game. So, I went to see the film on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been mulling it over in my brain since then, trying to come up with a comprehensive review. I’m usually able to go pretty deep into a review. But, for this one, I’ve been having trouble finding the right words. So, this review will likely have less depth than previous reviews.

The Imitation Game

This is a delightfully intense film that requires the viewer to pay attention. Alan Turing even asks at the top of the movie, “Are you paying attention?” For me, this had me shifting in my seat – sitting up, leaning forward – preparing for the story ahead. I love when a story – regardless of the medium – requires my full attention. The story is told through three distinct timelines – World War II, Turing’s childhood, years following the War. What I really appreciated about the film is that it is about Turing himself. It is his story. It is not really about Enigma or breaking the code. Of course, that is a large part of the movie. But the focus is not on the ins and outs of the mechanics of building this machine and breaking the code. Instead, it is about what drove Turing, significant life events, important relationships. It made for a much more interesting story. Kudos to the screen writer.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. I mean, I didn’t dislike him. I just didn’t agree with the hype surrounding his other roles. As Turing, however, the hype is well deserved. Given Turing’s social ineptitude and arrogance, he could have easily been deemed an unlikable character. However, Cumberbatch lends a sense of vulnerability to his performance that really had me pulling for Turing…not as a mathematician trying to break an “unbreakable” code, but as a person who is trying to find his way through life.

Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and the remainder of the actors playing supporting characters were quite exceptional. This story could have existed in a vaccum – focusing solely on the struggles behind finding a way to break the code. Instead, the supporting characters lend an important human quality to the story, bringing the realities of the war – and the impact their work/discoveries will have – right into the heart of the story. Knightly, I feel, is quite deserving of her Supporting Actress nomination for the Golden Globes. It is her portrayal of Joan Clarke, while not as meaty as it could have been, that helps to bring out Turing’s vulnerability and makes him likable.

Alexadre Desplat is a wonderful composer and his work for The Imitation Game is really exceptional. The music is beautiful and hits all of the right moods at the right moments throughout the film. Really, he should see another nomination or two for this score.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It was intense and it was humorous and it was heartbreaking, all at once. Just some really excellent work all around. Definitely see it if you have the chance.

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