8 feb. 2015

The Imitation Game (8/10): Another Biopic powered by a strong lead performance from Cumberbatch


“Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

It is easy to fall in love with The Imitation Game because it is a fact-based film about a man who in Winston Churchill’s words “made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.” Alan Turing’s story is one worth being portrayed on film because he played a huge role in shaping our history as one of the pioneers of modern-day computing. In school we are all taught what a huge factor the soldiers and allied forces played in winning the war after the Normandy landings, but little is known about these code breakers that were able to crack the unbreakable Enigma machine that the Germans used during the War. From the opening scene, Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), catches our attention and delivers a powerful (although by the books) biopic. The film isn’t groundbreaking and it follows most of the genre conventions biopics do, but it does so through some great performances and a solid production design that immerses us into the decades of the 40’s and 50’s. The film is told in non-linear fashion beginning with how Alan began being investigated by the Brtish authorities for indecent behavior. It later goes back 10 years to when Britain was at war with Nazi Germany and where Alan Turing began working with other scholars trying to crack the enemy’s communication codes. The film jumps back and forth as we also get some background information of Alan’s youth where he was introduced to the world of codes and cyphering. Alan’s story is fascinating and deserves a big screen adaptation as strong as this one because despite being a genius and having saved thousands of lives by shortening the war, he was disgraced and shamed for his homosexual behavior when he should’ve been hailed as a war hero. The film’s greatest strength is the inspiring fact-based story itself.

Benedict Cumberbatch has delivered several groundbreaking performances over his career, but I doubt he’s been as great as he is in The Imitation Game. Cumberbatch transforms himself completely and becomes Alan Turing. He invested himself for this role and it completely payed off. He portrays the conflicting emotions and inner turmoil of his character in an authentic and realistic way. Cumberbatch and Tyldum do an amazing job of honoring a man who never received the credit he deserved during his lifetime. Cumberbatch’s performance and Tyldum’s attention to detail in this period drama is what stands out other than the inspiring story adapted by Graham Moore. Keira Knightley and Mark Strong both deliver solid supporting performances as well. Knightley has received a lot of praise for her role here and deservedly so, but I was most pleased with Strong’s strong performance as the MI6 director, Stewart Menzies. It’s hard not to enjoy this film considering its story alone is fascinating, but Tyldum does deliver a solid biopic by working with a talented cast, having an eye for period detail, and hiring Alexandre Desplat as the composer giving the already emotional and touching story more depth.


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