Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.
The Imitation Game
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, and Mark Strong
Synopsis: The world is a different place because of Alan Turing. He was a mathematical genius. He was great at solving puzzles. And it’s likely that, because of him, the Allies won World War II. But he was a difficult person to work with and an even more difficult person to love. That was even true when it came to loving himself. Turing’s life took a tragic turn, but “The Imitation Game” does a beautiful job of exploring his passion and his contribution to history. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the finest actors working today, and he’s more than equal to the challenge in this film, one of the best of 2014. No matter how much time passes, WWII stories remain fascinating cinematic staples. “The Imitation Game” looks at a story that was long a secret. Turing’s machine worked, and his team accomplished the impossible, but it wasn’t widely known. In order to keep the Germans reeling, difficult decisions had to be made. And in the wake of the end of the war, the British government kept it all a secret for more than 50 years. It was interesting to see the work done in breaking Enigma, and the hard choices Turing and his team had to make with the information they gleaned. Doubtless it took an emotional and psychological toll on all involved. “The Imitation Game” does a great job of exploring that. But more than a story of events we don’t know, the film is more of an exploration of a man we know less about. Turing’s vision for what his machine — dubbed Christopher — could do was way ahead of its time. His work and theories influenced the course of history and are still part of the fabric of technology today. But he’s hardly a household name. The same is true of the people behind the film. The screenplay comes from Graham Moore, and it’s his first feature script. The film was directed well by Morten Tyldum, who hasn’t done a lot of popular projects. Both breathe great life into the film and into the telling of this story. But it ultimately comes down to the performances. Goode and Leech are great in complimentary roles, both bringing a unique personality and perspective to the film. Knightly delivers one of her better performances, too, as Joan. She plays a brilliant woman who struggles to fit into a society that isn’t looking to her for brilliance. Her work opposite Cumberbatch is essential to the story the film wants to tell. Then there’s Cumberbatch. He keeps sinking into new roles and keeps bringing great performances to the screen. Here he plays a different kind of character, and he does it well. Cumberbatch is the heart and soul of the film, and his emotional sequences in the third act are heart-breaking. This isn’t a fast-paced film, but it’s a beautifully told story. It’s a story of a group of people whose vision and dedication helped win the war. But more importantly it’s the story of a brilliant man who contributed a lot to a society that rejected who he was, and how that left him broken.
Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.
Verdict: Four stars out of four.