The Imitation Game (Review)

The story of Alan Turing, the genius mathematician responsible for cracking the German Enigma machine and effectively bringing the war to a quicker end, is a story too few of us know.

Directed by Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game gives a more than fitting account to a man whose name and achievements should be etched on our minds.

The films narrative focuses in on three different time frames. Firstly, it focuses on Turing’s formative early years at boarding school where we see him already isolated and bullied by fellow pupils.

Secondly, and predominantly, it focuses on Turing’s efforts during World War 2 to crack the Germans secret codes at British Government base, Bletchley Park.

He is joined by other logicians, top thinkers and chess champions to help break this “unbreakable” code.

While there, he strains and struggles not only with the dilemma of how to break this formidable enigma but also the everyday social struggles of those working alongside him.

The third narrative strand focuses on Turing’s tragic post war life, in which he is under scrutiny and investigation for being a homosexual, something which was still illegal in 1950s Britain.

game2

Unlike a traditional Biopic, the film isn’t structured linearly and flips between the three narratives, focusing mostly on the films main draw which is Turing’s efforts to break the Nazi’s puzzle.

Tyldum does an excellent job of illuminating Turing’s life with some great storytelling techniques, a strong cast and an aptly disciplined focus.

The chief source of drama surfaces from the characters themselves rather than melodramatic set pieces, which is fine because these characters are interesting in and of themselves.

Thanks to some great acting from a strong cast, which includes Kiera Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode and Game of Thrones favourite, Charles Dance, the film is essentially comfortable with focusing on its subject matter, which it does poignantly and movingly.

The Imitation Game is generally at ease with its own surroundings and seldom sways too clumsily away from its focus in favour of more conventional cinematic scenery.

Indeed it is in the moments were it attempts to branch out into more orthodox ground where it feels like it is ever so slightly overreaching with its ambition.

Its endeavour however to illuminate Turing’s life and herald it as one that needs celebration and admiration is ultimately a successful one.

game3

Once again Benedict Cumberbatch excels in a role where he has to play a socially awkward genius. Here, Cumberbatch finally gets the big screen central role he has been owed after some fantastic performances on TV screens and some all too brief moments in the Cinema.

His acting isn’t a loud ‘look at me’ kind of performance though; it’s a subtle yet extremely effective one.  Cumberbatch again showing of some mighty fine acting muscle and underlining why he might just be one of Britain’s best actors and hottest properties.

Despite positive reviews from critics, historians have been less kind to the film and have criticised it’s all too brief portrayal of Turing’s homosexual ventures.

Tyldum’s decision to instead focus primarily on Turing’s platonic relationship with Kiera Knightley’s Joan Clarke and the exclusion of other historical factors such as Poland’s influence on cracking the code is one which may leave a sour taste in the mouth of for those expecting a totally accurate historical piece.

Apart from that however, The Imitation Game remains relatively blemish free providing us with a poignant and absorbing thriller, one which leaves you satisfied as well as informed.