The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum, 2014)
Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.
The Imitation Game is a highly conventional movie about a profoundly unusual man. This is not entirely a bad thing. Alan Turing’s tragically shortened life—he was 41 when he died in 1954—is a complex and fascinating story, bristling with ideas and present-day implications, and it benefits from the streamlined structure and accessible presentation of modern prestige cinema. The science is not too difficult, the emotions are clear and emphatic, and the truth of history is respected just enough to make room for tidy and engrossing drama. ... Turing’s sexuality is mystified and marginalized, treated as an abstraction and a plot point. There is no sense that, between his chaste, intense and brief passion for Christopher and the anonymous encounter that led indirectly to his arrest, love, sex or romance played any significant part in Turing’s life at all. Mr. Hodges’s biography, threaded with quotations from Walt Whitman, gives eloquent and sensitive testimony to the contrary. For their part, the filmmakers, though willing to treat Turing as a victim of bigotry and repression, also nudge him back toward the closet, imposing a discretion that is at once self-protective and self-congratulatory. It’s not that we need to see him having sex—the PG-13 rating must be protected, I guess—but that a vital aspect of his identity and experience deserves more than a whisper and a wink. ...
Just a few years ago, this film might have felt radical and counterintuitive, like a daring, inspired leap from one era to another, or an excavation of the hidden history of the present. Instead, it has the shiny, hollow ring of conventional wisdom. It’s kind of perfect, and also kind of stale. A.O. Scott, NYT.
Sorry, copyright owners, that this is such a long quotation. Scott's view is so insightful that I couldn't cut it back any more. I shall, of course, take it all down if you wish.
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 25 July, 2018 | Now: 9 December, 2020