Picoreview: The Imitation Game

Picoreview: The Imitation Game: Pretty good. Not as good as the hype, but pretty good. Better than Interstellar and its hype, for sure.

It’s Cumberbatch doing what–not what he necessarily does best, I said, thinking of him in August, Osage County–but certainly what he’s best known for: playing an exceedingly intelligent, not particularly well socialized man with grandiose vision and the ability to carry it out.

The difference, of course, is this time it’s a relatively true story. I don’t know a *great* deal about Alan Turing, so I don’t know how many liberties they took. I do know that many of the reviews I’d seen suggested they significantly underplayed his homosexuality in favour of up-playing his relationship with Joan Clarke, played by Keira Knightly.

I disagree with that assessment fairly strongly. It’s true that they didn’t focus on any of his romantic relationships as an adult, but the relationships we were shown were exclusively his working relationships. I have no idea if he had affairs with any of the men he worked with, and if he did, okay, yes, they didn’t put that on the screen. There were a few moments that made me wonder if he *did* have–or perhaps Didn’t Quite Have–a relationship with a particular member of his team, and if he did I *do* wish that had been on the screen, because it was a very strong and conflicted relationship to begin with and adding actual romance to it would have been…fairly heartbreaking, I suspect.

But there are several conversations within the film that discuss his homosexuality in so many words, including one with Joan Clarke. They also told the story of his eventual downfall due to “indecency”, so I really didn’t think his sexuality was swept under the rug. Perhaps people who thought so know a great deal more about the man than I do.

Either way, this movie was supposed to be about his cracking the Enigma Code, and that was its main focus. They did a fine job with it, with a couple of really heart-wrenching moments. There were two framing stories: one with Turing as a youth at school (played by a kid who in several moments seemed to channel Cumberbatch, although more often not), and one with the cop who (in the film, at least) unintentionally exposed him as being gay. That was a surprisingly good role, actually.

Anyway, it’s a good movie. Worth seeing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cumberbatch gets an Oscar nomination.

(As a vaguely interesting trivia note, this is the second movie in which Cumberbatch has played a gay man against Mark Strong playing a spy.)

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