The Imitation Game reviews

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:48 am

ITALIANO wrote:But it's not exactly sex here that I missed - what's missing in this movie is the "feeling" of homosexuality in Alan Turing's character as he grows up.


Yes exactly. It was nothing more than longing and pretty asexual at that. I haven't seen such a 'straight' portrayal of a gay character since Tom Hanks' work in Philadelphia.

They may as well have left put any mention of homosexuality in this as it's only use was as a plot device.
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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:44 am

This was even crazier than usual... It turned out that what this board didnt like - the famous 403 page - was the title of the movie Blue is the Warmest Color, which I mentioned at some point!!! (and which now I can type!)

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:41 am

Sonic Youth wrote:The same people who complain about the dumbing down of Hollywood probably don't have films like "The Imitation Game" in mind. The joke's on them.


No well - at least when I personally complain, I know perfectly well that the "mature" alternative to cartoons and infantile action movies isn't things like The Imitation Game, sorry!!! :)

It's watchable. It's harmless. It's, of course, forgettable. It's not boring maybe - in this sense it's too "smartly" written and conceived, so it IS kind of entertaining. But it's so... light, so soft. I always like sex in movies - it's such an important aspect of our life that I rarely find it unnecessary in films, too.

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:40 am

But it's not exactly sex here that I missed - what's missing in this movie is the "feeling" of homosexuality in Alan Turing's character as he grows up.
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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:39 am

Oh, I know, he often proclaims that he's gay, but - how shall I put it - it's just words, without a real emotional context. He's as "sexual" as Forrest Gump, and almost as lovably eccentric. (Still, they were so scared that, typically, they had to include an aggressively heterosexual "friend" to compensate! In 2014!).

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:38 am

But it's not just that aspect... from a scientific point of view, it's less informative than those prehistoric biopics of scientists that William Dieterle or Mervyn LeRoy used to make once. And, I mean, they are ALL so goodlooking! I don't know you, but I've never met geniuses who looked like movie stars - certainly not like Benedict Cumberbatch and DEFINITELY not like Keira Knightley! But even the others - no, they are too obviously actors playing scientists. And by the way - when you, as a viewer, feel more intelligent, in too many scenes, than the "superior minds" on the screen, there MUST be a problem. But it's intentional, of course - they may look great, but they are also accessible, easy, "viewer-friendly". No wonder the movie is a big hit - but you feel that the real story and people must have been very different.

As for the acting, it's bearable, but always, like the movie itself, on a superficial level. Cumberbatch will certainly be nominated - and on paper this could be a powerful, competitive Best Actor category - full of showy, typically Oscar roles... But that doesn't mean that the nominees will necessarily be great, and at least THIS nominee won't be. (But he could win, or at least come close to winning). As for Keira Knightly, I spent the movie wondering why she should be nominated - she seems to do the same things she has done before - it's not an especially inventive acting turn. Then right at the end she finally has her Oscar-clip-scene, a monologue which proved to be effective, at least for the audience I saw it with, which was in tears. It's a strong scene, she does it well, but - sorry, you-know-who - she's still not an Oscar-caliber actress in my book... :)

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:50 pm

Enough with this British-Hollywood hybrid shit already!

Comparing "Breaking the Code" to "The Imitation Game" is like comparing scones to toast. Or do I mean milquetoast?

A few days ago, after seeing how well it did at the Box Office during the Christmas week, I actually thought "The Imitation Game" was going to win Best Picture in a sleeper. Watching the film cured me of that delusion.... unless I'm deluded now. Am I? There's no way this utterly sub-average, impersonal film can be seen by AMPAS as the most extraordinary film of the year. Is there? This film made me realize how maligned that other British WWII film The King's Speech was a few years ago. The King's Speech may not be a great a film, but everything that made it admirable and beloved - the affection for its characters, the narrative build-up, the understanding that dialogue isn't merely supposed to be witty but is also supposed to illustrate growth and development of the characters and their relationships with each other - was sorely missed here. The same people who complain about the dumbing down of Hollywood probably don't have films like "The Imitation Game" in mind. The joke's on them.
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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:46 am

MILD SPOILERS

Don't have much to say about The Imitation Game. It's a better than usual slice of Oscar bait made infinitely more tolerable by the fact that it's not going to win.

First off, Alan Turing's homosexuality. I'm a bit more forgiving of how little of it is actually in the film. He discovered his sexuality as a boy while also discovering codes. The eroticism linking the two for Alan is muted but nonetheless it's there. Then when he learns the fate of his friend, you can see him masking that part of himself away. I think that makes sense for this character. I agree that we almost never glimpse a moment of Alan even giving the most stealthy of longing glances to another man. There are many more interesting ways to portray Alan's homosexuality (which is to say Alan himself) but I think it more or less fits in line with what the film is doing.

BJ, I totally agree with you about the title cards at the end of the film. It don't know if it ends suddenly but certainly cheaply. The film wants us to bemoan the tragic number of gay men chemically castrated in a way that it doesn't earn. A sour note.

Benedict Cumberbatch seems to recognize the limitations of the script. He is fantastic and hints at everything the film doesn't show. It's not a replication of his Sherlock at all. At times, the film gives him not the most original of material, like barely grasping the concept of a joke, but he keeps finding notes of honesty in it. The rest of the ensemble is totally fine, most of them standing on their established personas. Keira Knightley is better than usual. The film demands an inner eccentricity that she subtly conveys in her early scenes but Graham Moore's screenplay, which tackles three periods of time simultaneously, moves along too quickly for her to make Joan truly unique. She will absolutely get nominated.

Back to the script. It's academic a bit to a fault. If the film lacks a punch at the end it's because it never roots itself in the present or the past. But it stays engaging because it's always establishing tensions that it pays off satisfactorily. Some movies would set Alan off to work at the twenty minute mark. In The Imitation Game, he starts closer to the ten minute mark and by the twenty minute mark he's placed in control. It still finds time to organically develop the mechanics of the Turing Machine. The scene where Alan stumbles upon epiphany at the bar quite accidentally in the midst of overhearing flirtations could easily feel contrived like in A Beautiful Mind (or Theory of Everything) but it doesn't. By the same token, there's nothing very inspired about anything in the film. It's just a very competent script, competently directed. If Alexandre Desplat must win his Oscar this year, can it please be for The Grand Budapest Hotel?
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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby Greg » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:59 pm

The Original BJ wrote:It's not that I missed a literal sex scene or anything. It's just that -- aside from some clearly unrequited love in the boarding school flashbacks -- there's not ONE moment of adult Turing so much as flirting with any man.


I'm surprised the film did not at least have a brief scene of Turing meeting Arnold Murray and then a brief scene in a police station. Also, was the Turing Test for the artificial intelligence of machines ever dealt with?
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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:20 am

Posted in 3 parts because...well...you know...

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:19 am

It'll be interesting to see if both The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything will be able to make their way on to the Best Picture ballot, because they share a lot of similarities -- they're both true-life stories of socially inept academic geniuses in mid-century England, and (probably to the disappointment of many around here) they're both exceedingly square pieces of filmmaking.

That said, I would definitely rank The Imitation Game as the superior work, simply because, however traditional it might be, I didn't have the feeling that I'd seen this exact same movie umpteen times before, as I did with Theory of Everything. And I think there are times when the movie hints at some interesting things. For instance, I found the entire sequence beginning with Matthew Goode flirting with the girl in the restaurant, leading the team to crack the Enigma code, to be quite engaging (even if I questioned whether this event happened in such a movie-movie manner). And the chunk that comes after this -- when Turing and company develop a statistical model for whether or not the British government should act on each piece of intelligence they find -- was easily the most compelling thematic stuff in the film, as the characters were forced into a fairly interesting moral quandary, as they knowingly have to let countrymen die so that the Germans don't catch on too quickly that their code has been cracked. And individual scenes -- like Turing's explanation of the difference between man and machine, or his wife's reaction to his professed sexuality -- that feel like instances of the movie flirting with a more complicated version of itself.

But at the same time, the movie keeps tripping itself up in one major way, as so many scenes feel like they make their point and then just keep underlining it: Turing's first interview for the code-breaking job, Joan's entrance in the movie, the discussion of whether or not to alert British intelligence about the impending convoy attack, etc. I found myself fairly consistently getting ahead of the story, with the screenwriter needing to make the same point three times when one would have sufficed. (Along those lines, the movie's oft-repeated theme statement needs to be filed next to that poem from Interstellar on the list of things I would have been perfectly happy to only hear ONCE in their respective films.)

I knew there had been some grumbling about the fact that the movie didn't have a sex scene, and going into the film, this isn't something that bothered me in any way, sort of like I wasn't bothered that there wasn't such a scene in The Theory of Everything (or even, say, Nightcrawler). But after now seeing the movie, I see why folks are grouchy about this. It's not that I missed a literal sex scene or anything. It's just that -- aside from some clearly unrequited love in the boarding school flashbacks -- there's not ONE moment of adult Turing so much as flirting with any man.

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:19 am

The filmmakers have countered that Turing was extremely repressed, and the film reflects that, but come on -- for a story about a man who was chemically castrated and then committed suicide because of his sexuality, it's pretty timid in 2014 to erase any depiction of this part of his life from the screen (outside of discussing it with other characters). I also have to say that I felt the movie ended rather suddenly, reducing some pretty major events at the end of Turing's life to simple title cards, when they'd have been far more effective as part of the story proper.

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Re: The Imitation Game reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:18 am

As for the performances, Benedict Cumberbatch's performance is indeed the most special aspect of the film -- he creates a character with a seemingly different physicality than I've ever seen from him before, but he does so without affect or strain. Alan Turing's awkward tics, his verbal stutters, even his lumbering gait, feel completely organic. And it's a role that allows him to take full command of the screen throughout much of the film's running time; he's certainly a strong Best Actor candidate. Keira Knightley is definitely improving from her former station in Felicity Jones useless-land, though I can't say I thought she brought a ton of singular invention to the typical supportive wife role that she stood out as special. Still, she's got a fairly solid part, with a couple scenes in which she makes an obvious impression, and she's the only female in a film otherwise dominated by men -- she'll at least be in the conversation in the Supporting Actress category.

This could finally be the Oscar vehicle for Alexandre Desplat. I don't think the score ranks among his most memorable work -- I can't immediately recall its main themes as I've often been able to do with much of his scores -- but there's a lot of noticeable music throughout, and it's the kind of sweeping, orchestral stuff that Oscar likes.

On the whole, I'd be more happy to see this as an awards candidate than Theory of Everything (or -- gag -- Interstellar). But I rate it below much of the other contenders I've seen so far. Even the movies I've found comparatively underwhelming -- like Foxcatcher and Whiplash -- have a lot more exciting things going on in them than this one does.

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The Imitation Game reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:33 am

Variety

Benedict Cumberbatch triumphs as the brilliant but troubled mathematician Alan Turing in this classy but conventional, Oscar-baiting biopic.
Scott Foundas
Chief Film Critic @foundasonfilm

Nothing is too heavily encrypted in “The Imitation Game,” a veddy British biopic of prodigal mathematician and WWII codebreaker Alan Turing, rendered in such unerringly tasteful, “Masterpiece Theatre”-ish fashion that every one of Turing’s professional triumphs and personal tragedies arrives right on schedule and with nary a hair out of place. More than once during the accomplished (but not particularly distinctive) English-language debut for Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (“Headhunters”), you can catch the ghost of the late Richard Attenborough nodding approvingly over the decorous proceedings. And yet so innately compelling is Turing’s story — to say nothing of Benedict Cumberbatch’s masterful performance — it’s hard not to get caught up in this well-told tale and its skillful manipulations. Likely to prove more popular with general audiences than highbrow critics, this unapologetically old-fashioned prestige picture (the first of the season’s dueling studies of brilliant but tragic English academics, to be followed soon by “The Theory of Everything”) looks and feels like another awards-season thoroughbred for U.S. distrib Harvey Weinstein.

By any measure, “The Imitation Game” is a marked improvement over Michael Apted’s 2001 “Enigma,” a dreary, dramatically inert potboiler starring Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet as fictionalized versions of Turing and fellow cryptanalyst Joan Clarke, who was also briefly Turing’s fiancee — until he confessed his homosexuality and broke off the engagement. In adapting Andrew Hodges’ Turing biography, “The Enigma,” first-time screenwriter Graham Moore seems to have made a close study of Aaron Sorkin’s script for “The Social Network,” which “The Imitation Game” resembles in its flashback structure, many scenes of geeky young men huddled over complex algorithms, and its central conception of Turing as an Aspergian outcast who makes up in haughty, condescending attitude what he lacks in basic social graces. That’s not a bad model to work from, though Moore has also picked up a few less desirable habits from those screenwriting seminars that encourage writers to do things like having multiple characters articulate the theme of the movie in a nifty, self-empowering mantra: “Sometimes it’s the people no one expects anything from who do the things no one expects,” which becomes “The Imitation Game’s” version of “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Of course, in the England of Turing’s time, with the Victorian-era Labouchere Amendment still in effect, being gay meant having to say you were sorry all the time — provided you were unlucky enough to be caught in the act, as Turing was in 1952, arrested on charges of “gross indecency” stemming from his affair with a 19-year-old male drifter. (Two years later, Turing killed himself at the age of 41.) “The Imitation Game” begins there, using Turing’s interrogation by a sympathetic policeman (Rory Kinnear) as a framing device that offers a practical explanation for the character’s running voiceover narration. We then jump back to 1939 and the early days of England’s entrance into the war, where the 27-year-old Turing applies for a top-secret post working on the decryption of the seemingly “unbreakable” German cipher machine called Enigma, used by the Nazis to encode all military radio transmissions from ordinary weather reports to valuable tactical maneuvers.

Turing lands the gig at Bletchley Park, home to the Government Code and Cypher School, where he plays poorly with others, alienating his fellow codebreakers and clashing repeatedly with his bosses (a wonderfully starchy Charles Dance as a seen-it-all Royal Navy Commander and Mark Strong as a cagey MI6 agent). When Turing chafes at being second banana to the Enigma team’s de facto leader — suave national chess champion Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode in a variation on Andrew Garfield’s “Social Network” character) — he appeals his case directly to Winston Churchill, who responds (in the very next scene) by putting Turing in charge. And just about everything in the first half of “The Imitation Game” has a similar, overly tidy feel of real life reduced to anecdotal zingers. When Turing holds a kind of open audition to recruit new team members, you know that Clarke (Keira Knightley), the lone woman in the group, won’t just turn out to be as good as the men, but even better. And when Turing finally has his Enigma-busting eureka moment, it’s due to one of those random happy accidents, like the apocryphal apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head.

Tyldum and Moore may not be the most inspired of craftsmen, but they know how to keep things moving at a brisk pace, and they manage to cram an impressive amount of information and detail into less than two hours of screen time. “The Imitation Game” is especially good at maintaining a constant, queasy sense of the war (seen in snippets of newsreels and a couple of deftly stylized reenactments), the British body count rising ever higher the longer it takes our intrepid pencil pushers to solve their cryptographic puzzle. It’s enervating work, complicated by the Enigma machine’s exponential millions of possible settings, which the Germans change every 24 hours, effectively causing Turing and company to have to start over again from scratch. Or rather, everyone but Turing, who, having resolved that only another machine can possibly solve the Enigma riddle, sets to building a room-sized proto-computer named Christopher (after a schoolboy protector and crush, seen in a further set of flashbacks).

It’s a familiar portrayal of the rogue genius who pushes further into the breach no matter the incomprehension and contempt of his smaller-brained contemporaries, but Cumberbatch invests himself so fully in the role that the scenes transcend their attendant cliches. His Turing is a marvel to watch, comically aloof when confronted with as mundane a task as ordering lunch, but seething with the mad intensity of a zealot whenever anything risks impeding his work, and finally heartbreaking in his inability to cope with the cruel realities of the world outside Bletchley Park.

Ultimately, “The Imitation Game” doesn’t need its banal catchphrases to show us that Turing is a savant who sees and feels the world differently than most other people, because it’s there in every inch of Cumberbatch’s performance — in the rigid way he carries himself (as if he were two sizes too big for his own body), and in his pained realization that he can never fully decipher the code of ordinary human interaction. And Knightley — who’s reliably more interesting as misfits and weirdos (like her Sabina Spielrein in “A Dangerous Method”) than as virtuous ingenues — proves every bit his equal as the brilliant Clarke, another societal square peg blithely unconcerned by the era’s demeaning conception of womanly ability.

Turing breaks Enigma a little over halfway into “The Imitation Game,” and it’s only then that the movie blooms into something darker, more troubled and altogether more interesting. It becomes about how, having made arguably the greatest breakthrough of the war, Turing and company must now keep it hidden, not just from the public, but from most corridors of government and military power, lest anyone inadvertently tip off the Germans that their secret transmissions are no longer secret. So Turing’s team now finds itself charged with determining the maximum amount of intercepted information that can be acted upon without giving the game away — a “blood-soaked calculus,” per Turing, that often means sacrificing some British lives in the name of saving others.

Even then, “The Imitation Game” never quite trumps the sense that Turing’s life was a messier, more complex enterprise than we’re allowed to see here. But the movie is undeniably strong in its sense of a bright light burned out too soon, and the often undignified fate of those who dare to chafe at society’s established norms.

Top-flight craft contributions add to the overall classy feel, particularly the lush, contrasty 35mm lensing of Spanish cinematographer Oscar Faura (“The Impossible”), the cluttered desks and primitive computing machines of production designer Maria Djurkovic (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), and a piano-and-strings score by Alexandre Desplat that catches something of Turing’s anxious, uneasy spirit.


Hollywood Reporter
'The Imitation Game': Telluride Review
12:53 AM PDT 8/30/2014 by Todd McCarthy

The Bottom Line

Cumberbatch adds to his laurels in this engrossing real-life WWII code-cracking drama with tragic dimensions

Benedict Cumberbatch is cornering the market on playing exceptionally brilliant problem solvers, first on television with his dazzling portrayal of a modern Sherlock Holmes and now on the big screen in a superb performance as Alan Turing, who cracked the Enigma code and helped win World War II.

Engrossing, nicely textured and sadly tragic, The Imitation Game is overly reluctant to dive into the nitty gritty of how the man who’s often called the father of artificial intelligence accomplished what he did, while the matter of his eventual arrest for homosexuality provides a potent and topical framing device. After significant festival exposure, the Weinstein Company has several angles it can play to build this prestige production into a considerable commercial success.

Young screenwriter Graham Moore has cogently streamlined and simplified the story of a man who was recognized very early in life as a rare prodigy and whose rudeness and insulting manner to others is so condescendingly superior as to play as amusing; “That’s actually not an entirely terrible idea” is his notion of the highest form of compliment. An eccentric in a country famous for them, Turing (like Holmes) sees things that others do not, which in wartime is a talent to be prized, even if tolerating the genius on a day-to-day basis is something his colleagues can scarcely endure.

With the blitz battering London and the Nazis taking control of Europe, the British government engages six math and chess whizzes to try to crack the Germans’ code, perceived as unbreakable, by which the enemy’s naval forces receive new instructions on a daily basis. As analyzed by the experts, Enigma has 159 million million million possible configurations, meaning it would take decades to decipher it by conventional methods.

Overseen by old school Commander Denniston (a very good Charles Dance) and led by two-time chess champion Hugh Alexander (a smooth Matthew Goode), the group is hardly welcoming to Turing, who lets the others know in no uncertain terms that he considers them so useless that he’d be better off working on his own. In one fine scene, after an exasperated Denniston fires Turing, the latter trumps him by writing to Winston Churchill directly to win support and further financing.

Although the film is filled with scenes of these bright young men putting their noses to the grindstone in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park (the top secret facility bearing the public name of Bletchley Radio Manufacturing), it’s never made clear how they’re planning to crack the code and what they’re concretely doing to achieve it. No doubt all the arcane details would sail right over the heads of nearly all of us, but some shop talk would have been welcome, as would some clarification of what disagreements are putting the eggheads at loggerheads.

For his part, Turing puts together a large device with dozens of moving discs and nobs, something that’s easily recognizable as an early computer. Although one can deduce that this gizmo is going through innumerable combinations of letters and numbers in the hopes of eventually hitting on what the Nazis use to convey instructions about their next targets, some basic explanations about what Turing has brought to the table would have honored the man’s mind and accomplishments as well as respected the audience’s intelligence and curiosity about what set him so decisively apart.

“He’s different,” remarks one character, stating the obvious, and the difference the film seizes upon is his sexuality. Structured around a 1951 police investigation stemming from a break-in at Turing’s flat that eventually leads to his arrest for “indecency,” the film advances a contemporary “its okay to be different” perspective that will probably make it speak strongly to younger audiences and is very much in line with then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s 2009 official public apology for “the appalling way he was treated,” and with Queen Elizabeth’s posthumous pardon issued last year. But it’s also possible that a more true-to-period, reserved approach might have proven an even more moving way to deal with the love that, even then, dared not speak its name.

The arrival of the only woman admitted to the inner circle of code breakers, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), adds further layers of interest, both emotional and sociological. A brilliant puzzle solver, Joan quickly becomes the only person Turing likes to talk to, their confidential relationship eventually leading to his odd and, in the end, insincere and half-hearted proposal of marriage.

At the same time, their professional relationship has to be hidden, as regulations dictate that women are only permitted lower level clerical and communications jobs at the site and are required to live together in communal housing. Knightley’s turn here is alive, alert and altogether sympathetic.

After two years go by without concrete results, the pressure for some breakthrough becomes extreme. But when it does come (anachronistically accompanied by the entirely modern “Yes!” exclamation on the part of one character), it’s a success leavened by the insistence of MI6 head Stewart Menzies (an authoritative and reserved Mark Strong) that the solving of the code must remain a tightly guarded secret; if the Allies tip their hand by thwarting too many German attacks, the enemy will certainly cease using it. So the artificial brain puts its creators in the position of playing God, deciding who will live and who will die.

All along, there is suspicion that Turing might be a Soviet spy, an idea that drives the post-war investigation of Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear) once the war hero has been arrested for his “degenerate” conduct. In the event, the leaks to the Russians come from elsewhere, but this is of no help to Turing, whose fate is deplorably tragic.

Norwegian director Morten Tyldum, whose lively and provocative 2012 feature Headhunters is the most successful Norwegian production on home turf of all time, moves things along nicely and achieves some rich visual texture, but doesn’t seem all that interested in the finer points of period flavor, especially in regard to personal behavior; if you watch English films about WWII made either during or after the war, the sense of tightly coiled courage, behavioral reserve and resilience under pressure is unmistakable. There’s little of that here, as the characters are allowed a far greater and, one might argue, more modern range of emotional expression, which could be all to the good in terms of audience acceptance.

But dominating it all is Cumberbatch, whose charisma, tellingly modulated and naturalistic array of eccentricities, Sherlockian talent at indicating a mind never at rest and knack for simultaneously portraying physical oddness and attractiveness combine to create an entirely credible portrait of genius at work. In addition to everything else, Alan Turing was a highly accomplished long-distance runner and occasional glimpses of the man putting his all into the sport lend physical punctuation to a largely indoor story.

The subject of numerous books, Turing was the central character in Hugh Whitemore’s successful play Breaking the Code, which opened in London in 1986 and moved to Broadway the following year. With Derek Jacobi again playing the leading role, it was made into a BBC television production in 1996.


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