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article imageOp-Ed: Catching a spy with Gary Oldman in 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' Special

By Andrew Moran     Dec 27, 2011 in Entertainment
Toronto - For months, I have been waiting for the release of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." After watching all the trailers, reviewing the interviews and reading up on the picture, I finally saw the film. A few words: best picture of the year.
John le Carre is one of the world’s most famous authors in his genre. During the second half of the 20th century, Carre, also known as David John Moore Cornwell, has published such books as “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “The Constant Gardner.”
The British author, who worked for the MI5 and MI6 throughout the 1950s and 1960s, was listed as one of the top 50 greatest British writers since 1945 by The Times. His latest espionage novel is “Our Kind of Traitor.”
In 1979, his novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” became a television mini-series starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley. It surrounds the story of a former intelligence specialist (Smiley), who is forced to come out of retirement to find a Soviet mole in the Circus – the top of the intelligence agency.
Motion Picture
The book has now been turned into a motion picture with an all-star British cast: Gary Oldman (Beethoven and Batman Begins) as Smiley, John Hurt (1984 and Melancholia) as Control, Mark Strong (Body of Lies and Sherlock Holmes) as Jim Prideaux, Colin Firth (A Single Man and The King’s Speech) as Bill Haydon, Toby Jones (Frost/Nixon and W.) as Percy Alleline, Ciaran Hinds (Munich and There Will be Blood) as Roy Bland, David Dencik (War Horse and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Toby Esterhase, Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl) as Peter Guillam and Tom Hardy (Inception and Warrior) as Ricki Tarr.
This heavily anticipated film adaptation, which has been consistently delayed from being released in theatres in North America, is directed by Swedish newcomer, Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In), and is written by Bridget O’Connor (Sixty Six and Mrs. Ratcliffe’s Revolution) and Peter Straughan (The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Debt).
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been acclaimed by critics worldwide and has received numerous award nominations and accolades, including the British Independent Film Awards, the London Critics Circle Film Awards and the Venice Film Festival.
Unfortunately, it did not garner any Golden Globe nominations this year. Many are speculating that this picture could finally land Oldman an Academy Award nomination and possible win – if Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t win it for “J. Edgar.”
The movie maintains an 85 percent fresh rating on and a 7.7 user rating on The reviews from professional film critics have generally been positive.
“Just watching Gary Oldman and his trenchcoated brethren march down the damp, ill-lit streets of Cold War London is enough to make you shiver,” wrote Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“This is a smart and ruthlessly efficient drama that is complex without being convoluted and refreshingly adult in its approach to boot,” wrote Peter Sobczynski of
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is simply a nice break from all of the reboots, remakes, explosions, incoherence and pop culture that plague cinema today. Although it is a spy drama, do not expect James Bond/Jason Bourne style filmmaking or storytelling.
Alfredson’s take on the 1974 novel is similar to Martin Ritt’s 1965 adaptation of Carre’s “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” in the sense that it is dark, serious, eloquent and leaves no room for error.
The films keep the theme in line with Carre’s viewpoint that spies lead depressing and isolated lives. Akin to Richard Burton’s epic monologue in 1965 that spies try to find meaning in “their rotten little lives,” Hardy’s one line, “I want to have a family, I don’t want to be like you guys,” is perfect to summarize a spy’s life.
The excellent cast does not attempt to glamorize the lives of spies. They do an excellent job of being reclusive from their friends, family and even colleagues. Remaining loyal to one’s country far outweighs loyalty to a friend in the world of espionage.
Oldman’s portrayal of the intelligence specialist is desolate. His supporting members portray their characters with the utmost sophistication of devotion or deception.
Unfortunately, this film had two minor flaws in it: the score and not enough of John Hurt and Simon McBurney (The Manchurian Candidate and The Last King of Scotland).
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s trailer had an excellent one-minute song that is actually from Danny Elfman’s soundtrack to “The Wolfman.” For the last few months, I have been hoping that the song would be a sign of what we would expect. However, it was quite the opposite.
The score was shallow and not riveting. I do understand that some of the scenes required 1970s music, but most of the scenes that did have an original score could have had more of an intense feeling.
The other issue is understandable. Maybe the picture did not require having too much of Hurt or McBurney. The two are absolutely brilliant actors, and they are what hyped the film up even more during the theatrical trailer(s).
Anyone who is willing to sit through a two-hour film that maintains a steady pace, superb acting, fantastic cinematography and a stunning story should see this picture whenever it is released at your local cinema.
Labelling this film as the best picture of the year is not an exaggeration. Indeed, it defeated its predecessors in every manner (the score being the exception).
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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