Showing with FilmSoc on Tuesday 22nd October. Room G33, Education Building. 7:30pm. Tinker Tailor Solider Spy follows a group of government agents from the “old days”, with George Smiley (Gary Oldman) leading an undercover investigation. It is within the first fifteen minutes that Smiley is briefed on his mission: there is a mole in the […]

Written by Daisy Edwards
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Showing with FilmSoc on Tuesday 22nd October. Room G33, Education Building. 7:30pm.

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy follows a group of government agents from the “old days”, with George Smiley (Gary Oldman) leading an undercover investigation. It is within the first fifteen minutes that Smiley is briefed on his mission: there is a mole in the group, who must be eradicated. The possible suspects consist of the brilliant Colin Firth, Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones and David Dencik, each of who manage splendidly to pull of ‘suave and mysterious’. The plot of Tinker Tailor Solider Spy arcs nicely over the course of the film, following the investigation from the beginning right up to the end of the case. However, the cinematography and slow pacing really make this film memorable.

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The 'spy genre' itself is questionable...

Unlike the majority of spy films, we are only ever treated to one fist fight and a few shots of blood spatter and, to heighten its originality, the pacing when paired with the script allows a gradual development of both the plot and characters. One warning, to those who enjoy the Daniel Craig Bond films and the Bourne trilogy, is to be aware that this spy film is very different. The script is very well delivered and written, though it focuses as much on what people are not saying as well as what they are. There are several moments of screen time that could do with explanation – but several artsy shots, with no dialogue at all, allow the audience to digest any and all plot development and revelations. Naturally, due to the slow pacing and the minimalist script, you need to stay focused while watching this film, if you look away to check your phone you could miss something crucial.

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tinkerApart from plot, the characters themselves seem far more realistic when compared to the typical spy-film characters. The “spy genre” itself is questionable label for this film… it may better fall under the drama category. Actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Tom Hardy and Mark Strong grace the screen, playing characters that range from goody-two-shoes to gritty. Each character is fully realised and one or two manage to deeply connect to the audience. Although this film focusses on the undercover investigations, there is equal screen and script time for those behind the scenes. With the focus on government agents, a male dominated cast seems to be the only option regarding the casting, as in the early 70’s you very rarely got women working in big government spy circles, unless they were secretaries. Though it is due to the time period, certain character arcs play out extremely subtly. This can be both good and bad. The subtly in acting, script and in plot could easily be seen as a fault if you’re not willing to take your time in understanding this film.

Verdict

I naturally want to rank Tinker Tailor Solider Spy highly, however I cannot help but feel a second, or even a third, watch would prove helpful. I think the best way to describe this film is that it’s different, different and gripping to watch and, despite not being everyone’s cup of tea, if you enjoy great acting and well-paced plots, I highly recommend this film.

Eight out of Ten

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