Review of: The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game is a drama about the British efforts to break the Nazi Enigma code and thus help put an early end to World War II. So, we pretty much know how the story will end. We know that the code will be broken, that the Allies are able to use this information to shorten the war. What we may not know are the people behind this achievement. That is what this film is really about.
Alan Turing is the genius code-breaker at the center of this story. He is a awkward, anti-social personality that we come to expect from someone whose intellect far surpasses those around him. But as played by Benedict Cumberbatch he is a complex, sad and strangely engaging person. We come to love this character from the beginning. A part of this affection is because the film intersperses scenes of Turning as a school child and after the war with the main war-time store line. This helps us understand the character better than would be with conventional storytelling. As Turing’s only friend at school tells him, “sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of, who can do the things no one can imagine.”
There are strong supporting roles from Keira Knightly as Joan the only woman among the Enigma team, Mark Strong as the Machvellian MI6 intelligence officer Stewart Menzies and Charles Dance as Commander Dennison the officer in charge of the team. The Commander wants results but is too conventional to recognize that Turing’s approach might work. And the MI6 officer Menzies has an agenda of his own. And Joan just wants to be fully a part of the team and to love Turing.
But it is the performance by Cumberbatch that is the main reason to go see this film. Turing’s world, maybe because of rather than in spite of, his genius, has a lot of pain in it. And we are drawn into this world through the riveting performance by Cumberbatch. He shows us Turing’s successes, frustrations, failures and heartbreaks. I expect to he will receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
This film was the last one I viewed at this year’s Telluride Film Festival. It was a perfect end to a marvelous weekend of film. I recommend that you see this film as soon as you can.
In Theaters: November 21st