REVIEW: The Imitation Game

(L-R) Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Allen Leech star in THE IMMITATION GAME.
(L-R) Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Allen Leech star in THE IMMITATION GAME.

The first thing to say is that I wasn’t crying. I don’t cry at films.

There was just something in my eye towards the end of The Imitation Game. Something during a particularly emotional moment in the film - a moment where some people (but not me, obviously) might have had a bit of a weep.

But even if you’re like me - if you don’t usually go in for complicated, emotional or challenging films - The Imitation Game is simply brilliant.

It tells the story of Alan Turing, the mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist who played a crucial role in the Allies winning the Second World War from Bletchley Park.

On the face of it, this is a story that is either epic and life-affirming - one troubled genius helping to save the world - or it’s simply about a bunch of academics tinkering with computers whilst other people were dying on the actual battlefronts.

What The Imitation Game does so well is to mix both of those aspects. The film never loses sight of the bigger picture, but the very real struggles of Turing and his team are the focus of the story.

Benedict Cumberbatch is the star - a quasi-autistic genius, socially inept, yet played very differently to Sherlock Holmes. But the film is far from a one-man show, with Cumberbatch at times being one of three or four alpha-males on screen, with Charles Dance’s stern operational chief, Mark Strong as the ice cool head of MI6, and Matthew Goode the cryptologist whose difficult relationship with Turing blossoms into a mutual respect.

A few of the key features from the story that you may already know are played very well. The crossword puzzle that was used to recruit members of the team makes complete sense, and the moment that the team “crack” the code is pitch perfect.

The one reservation I had before the showing was how they would play Turing’s sexuality. Have no fear; while the film builds relentlessly, and as each triumph is met by a darker challenge or setback, the characters each become more real. And Turing’s sexuality is neither a gimmick nor glossed over, but is a key part of the palette of understanding his character.

Alan Turing isn’t played as a quirky hero, but as a lonely, troubled yet somehow rather lovely man, who just happened to help us to win the war.