Blu-ray Review Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson Cast: Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy Running Time: 2 hrs 8 mins Rating: R Due Out: March 20, 2012
PLOT: After being forced into retirement, veteran MI6 lieutenant George Smiley (Oldman) is called upon to find the mole within “the Circus.”
WHO'S IT FOR? Fans of John le Carré’s novel of the same name should be pleased by the adaptation. People who enjoy a smart, intricately-plotted spy film that doesn’t rely on fast-cut action or explosions should also make a point to see it.
As I sat down to write this I found myself at a loss as to where to begin. That isn’t because there is a dearth of commendable elements, but rather because the film is blessed with an overabundance. John le Carré’s novel is one of my favorites, so I could go on about how successful I found Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor’s adaptation. Sure, some things were truncated, but their work condenses the labyrinthine source into a two hour film that perfectly captures the novel’s spirit. I could applaud Tomas Alfredson’s direction, great work that proved Let the Right One In was no fluke, and that he’s one of the most exciting talents working today.
Then there are the film’s numerous craft achievements to consider. I could rave about any number of them, but then I’d feel obligated to pick a favorite. That would be near impossible when you have fantastic accomplishments such as Alberto Iglesias’s jazzy score, Maria Djurkovic’s production design that carries thematic weight in nearly every set, and Hoyte van Hoytema’s muted cinematography that is a perfect companion to le Carré’s “little grey men" who populate this world.
Or perhaps the best place to focus (he said 200 words later) is on the man right at the center of it all, Gary Oldman as George Smiley. Smiley is one of le Carré’s finest creations, and Oldman expertly brings him to life. It’s a very restrained performance, one in which Oldman often resides in the background as he quietly watches the action unfold. One thing I noticed, however, is that no matter what was happening on screen, my eyes kept going back to him. There is so much going on behind Oldman’s eyes – especially in one vulnerable moment from the second Christmas party flashback – that even the most imperceptible reaction captured my attention. That isn’t to say the rest of the cast isn’t uniformly excellent. Firth, Hardy, David Dencik and Mark Strong all deliver standout supporting performances, but my favorite of the bunch is Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam. The roller coaster of emotions his character goes through provides a great showcase, especially during the film’s most tense sequence in which Smiley sends him into the “lion’s den."
This is not something that can be thrown on as background noise. It’s a complex film, one that doesn’t stop to explain things to the audience. As such, the film certainly rewards multiple viewings. Seeing it again helps bring the authentic dialogue and intricacies of the central mystery into focus, but I don’t think it’s absolutely required for understanding or enjoyment. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of the very best films 2011 has to offer, and I look forward to revisiting it often, happily immersing myself in this cold, grey world time and time again.
MOVIE SCORE: 10/10
Bonus Features Exclusive to Blu-ray:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: First Look Deleted Scenes Interview with Author John le Carré BD-Live pocket BLU app (includes Advanced Remote Control, Video Timeline, Mobile-to-Go, Browse Titles, Keyboard) uHEAR
Bonus Features (Blu-Ray and DVD):
Interviews with Actors Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy; Director Tomas Alfredson; And Screenwriter Peter Straughan Feature Commentary with Director Tomas Alfredson and Actor Gary Oldman