Monday, January 30, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

 To answer the first and most important question...no, I have not read the book.  It probably would have helped to negotiate the intricate plot and subtle nuances, but I just couldn't wait.  I've been nervously, anxiously checking my Flixter app for the exact day this movie would come to Orlando.


This had fun written all over it.  Let's start with the director, Tomas Alfredson.  This is his first blockbuster film, but probably earned his wings with his lesser-known but most excellent Swedish version of "Let the Right One In".  Throw that one on your Netflix Queue if you haven't already.  


The actors.  A whole stew of hotties that can act their little heads off.  Gary Oldman, of course, who isn't prettied up here but that is beside the point.  Even as greasy Sirius Black he was hot.  Colin Firth - no words necessary.  Tom Hardy, the man with the bod and lips.  And a couple of fairly unknown actors that have something special...Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch.  If you see the movie, just trust me and keep your eye on these two.  Call me superficial, but I'd have been plenty happy if they'd all just stood up there on the screen and smiled, danced a two-step and read the phonebook.
    










But they didn't.  They all played an important part in executing an extremely smart movie about espionage, skullduggery, murder and mayhem in the Cold War.  (The key word here is "smart". I love a good, twisty plot that challenges my brain cells, but unless you have read the book, this is going to feel like a two- or three-time rewatch kind of movie to really GET it.)
















The most important thing to know is this.  Some British Intelligence spy business has gone very wrong in Budapest, and one of their own is taken down.  The head of the BI, Control (John Hurt) suspects there is a mole within the four members of the upper echelon of the organization.  Control retires, and forces his best agent, Smiley, (Gary Oldman) to step down with him.  The government asks Smiley to try to quietly determine who of the four individuals is the secret Soviet spy. 


From there it gets a little convoluted.  My advice is just to go with it.  Get the important facts straight in your head, and save the details for a later viewing.  The  ultimate evil-doer will be made clear in the end.  Then go read a detailed summary, read the book, whatever, and watch it again.      














The pacing was fast and sharp - never a dull moment.  The acting is superb.  It was almost overwhelming to have so much talent in one place.  I think what I loved most was the way it ended...with a rendition of the French song "La Mer" performed by Julio Iglesias, playing while a whole string of powerful events take place.  No dialogue, just violence, heartbreak, and bittersweet triumph while this gorgeous, groovy song is playing.  Wow.



14 comments:

C.B. James said...

You've sold me. I have read the book, ages ago, and I know that a really good spy story confuses much more than it explains. Adding this one to my queue.

bermudaonion said...

I struggle with movies if the plot gets too convoluted. I should probably read the book first.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I read this a long time ago, and remember loving the book.

Carrie K. said...

Glad to hear the movie delivers - I couldn't follow the audiobook, and it was very sloooooooowwwwwwwww.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I'm glad this is good. I just got a copy of the book and I really want to read it before seeing the movie, but I'm dying to see the movie!

Julie P. said...

I thought the previews made this one look good.

Zibilee said...

I loved this one as well, and was very involved with all the minor aspects of the movie, because you told me I needed to pay attention to really get it, and that it was very smart! I think the acting was superb, and I loved the very 70's feel to the visuals. It was a quiet movie, but just so, so wonderful! Great review today!

Belle Wong said...

I've been wanting to read this one - will probably read it first before seeing the movie. On a sort-of-related note, I was reading somewhere recently that Le Carre invented the meanings for spy words like "mole", and until he used these terms, the spy community never used such words!

Jenners said...

This wasn't really even on my radar but you've put it there now!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

You had me at "stew of hotties" (I haven't yet read the book, either).

That and a hot buttered popcorn is all I need ...

heidenkind said...

I absolutely love movies like this. I'm really looking forward to watching it!

Marie said...

What a movie! I really loved it too. and all those cute, talented british men!

Serena said...

this is a movie that's on my list.

Kathleen said...

Wow, I GOTTA see this one!