"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Release Date: Dec. 23, 2011
Running Time: 127 minutes
A dense and detached Cold War-era thriller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is easy to admire but hard to like. The performances are superb; the dialogue is sharp and knowing; and the twists and turns to be found in this thoughtful adaptation of John le Carré’s novel can be followed if you give it your full attention. Unlike his deeply personal adaptation of Let the Right One In, director Tomas Alfredson takes a very clinical approach to British intelligence officer George Smiley’s search for a Soviet double agent. Everything unfolds in a slow and calculated manner to reflect the covert nature of Smiley’s investigation and the resistance and/or hurdles he encounters as he attempts to penetrate MI6, known in the film as “The Circus.” Alfredson doesn’t necessarily do much to draw you into Smiley’s investigation. There’s no sense of urgency. Alfredson instead relies on the inherent intrigue of the proceedings to hold your interest. The only time Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy breaks free of its icy demeanor is at the end, when the unmasked double agent’s fate is played out against Julio Iglesias’ demonstrative rendition of “La Mer.” As Smiley, Gary Oldman is all business. Aged to look like he’s in his late 60s, Oldman is as brooding and tightlipped as one would expect from a man entrusted to keep his nation’s most devastating secrets. You can hear the clogs turning as Oldman contemplates every scrap of intelligence he receives. Barely a wasted word is said by Oldman or the remaining cast, including Tom Hardy as a suspected defector and Colin Firth and Ciarán Hinds as targets of Smiley’s investigation. Every sentence is uttered in service of the plot. No doubt part of this is done out of necessity. Unlike the 1979 BBC miniseries that starred Alec Guinness as Smiley, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy cuts a few corners in its bid to condense and capture the sober mood of le Carre’s novel, which it does successfully. By playing things so coolly, though, Alfredson may not have inspired much passion for Smiley to return in any of Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sequels.
Aired: Dec. 22, 2011
Web site: http://www.focusfeatures.com/tinker_tailor_soldier_spy