So I watched The Imitation Game…
Let me start by saying that although I haven’t seen American Sniper or The Theory of Everything, I’m almost certain that Benedict Cumberbatch has no competition for this year’s Best Actor at the Oscars. I’ve heard amazing things about Eddie Redmayne so I’ll reserve judgement until I see The Theory of Everything.
Now the day before I watched this movie, I watched Fury and I thought both movies complimented each other so well. Fury is a look at the practical side of the war which mainly involved killing and The Imitation Game revolves around the more subtle aspect of war – gathering intelligence and forming strategies to best defeat your enemy. Both sides are essential to the war and both sides make pretty entertaining movies.Wonder how long it will be before we have a movie about The Manhattan Project?
But let’s talk about The Imitation Game
Okay, so basic plot: we’ve seen movies about how atomic bombs and planes and tanks and even stuttering Kings changed World War II, now watch a movie about how math changed the war. Cumberbatch is Alan Turing, a mathematical genius and all-round asshole who proves that even if you do the impossible and help end a war, the world will still hate you if you’re gay.
As I said earlier, I haven’t seen two of the five nominees for Best Actor but I truly believe Benedict Cumberbatch deserves this Oscar. His performance in this movie is transcendent. I always judge an actor’s performance not by the grand gestures he performs but the tiny, often overlooked, idiosyncrasies and mannerisms he brings to the role. The way he chooses to stand, walk, even the way he chooses to drink a cup of coffee can add something to the role. When an actor commits so completely to a role that he ceases to be just a person pretending to be someone else in your mind, when he becomes that character, that is true acting and that is worthy of an Oscar. Cumberbatch reaches this level and then surpasses it. He is absolutely spellbinding in this role, he takes you in, amazes you and doesn’t stop until the very last scene. Turing’s character is complex and multi-dimensional and Cumberbatch displays all these intricacies with a layer of emotional grit that very few actors can produce. He steals every scene and even though the cast around him is exceptional, he stands head and shoulders above them – they are not in the same league, the same planet, they are not even reading from the same script.
Now the story is actually quite an interesting one: The Nazis have a code machine, called Enigma, that produces an unbreakable cipher and this allows them a tactical edge because even though German communications can be intercepted quite easily, breaking the cipher is impossible because the machine that creates the ciphers has one-hundred-and-fifty-nine million million different possible settings (no, I didn’t accidentally type million twice, it’s million million). Turing is tasked with breaking this code and effectively ending the war. Now he manages this (oh is that a spoiler? Um Germany loses the war by the way), as I was saying, Turing manages to break the code by creating a machine of his own, called Christopher, that will analyse German ciphers and determine what settings the machine is set to and therefore how to break the cipher. Um I didn’t really care too much about understanding this aspect of the movie and the director doesn’t spend too much time trying to explain it and focuses on the human story behind the machine.
Now in the beginning no one believes in Turing’s machine and this added to the fact that he’s a pompous arse really fuels the conflict and tension in this movie. The story is told in the form of three timelines in Turing’s life: the main timeline is during WWII and shows how Turing created and perfected his machine; the second is set seven years after the end of the war and shows how Turing’s life tragically ends and the third shows Turing’s life in school where he was bullied and how he became friends with and later fell in love with a boy named Christopher. I wasn’t really a fan of this as the movie would jump between the different timelines as details of the plot were revealed. This robbed the movie of a sense of flow and continuity.
The movie is, however, extremely well-paced and has a great script that manages to temper the gravity of the implications of Alan’s work with some truly genuine moments of humour and cheer. In the same way that Fury was such a great movie because it focused on the fighting and stayed away from the politics, The Imitation Game is such a great movie because it focuses on the politics and stays away from the fighting. The movie isn’t confused about what story it wants to tell and because it stays focused, it manages to tell the story very well.
Overall, this movie is well-written and wonderfully acted. Keira Knightly and Mark Strong put in memorable supporting performances but the focus of this movie is Benedict Cumberbatch’s amazing acting. The story is one worth telling and it’s told with a fair amount of levity and heart. This is definitely one that warrants a trip to the cinema. Go see it and (to the Academy) GIVE CUMBERBATCH HIS OSCAR!!! 9/10