Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I went to the indie cinema to watch this last night. I arrived 30 minutes early but it was already sold out. Disappointing. It’s a lovely cinema, but the screens have rather small capacity, and the city is full of worthies (myself amongst them) who like to patronise the alternative option.

Thwarted, I walked across the road to the non-indie cinema, where the film had the same scheduled start time. Far from being sold out, I was only the 4th person to sit down in front of the screen. It gradually filled, and I noted many whom I suspected had, like me, bounced off the indie cinema beforehand.

The film was a delight. Despite the immaculately reserved performances, it communicated huge emotional intensity, and I felt almost anxious the entire way through (though the person I went with may not have felt the same way – he fell asleep for a while…).

The acting talent was superlative. Gary Oldman was in top form. It’s interesting to see how he’s mellowed from his younger, more explosive, days. The other actors, in particular Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch, were also very good and I was delighted to see Kathy Burke as another old spy who’s been put out to pasture.

The direction is very close up and claustrophobic. There aren’t any car chases or explosions, but the director can up the tension when he wants to, and uses moments of realistic horror (entrails floating in a bath tub) to keep the audience keyed up and on their toes. The 1970s setting (in London and elsewhere) seemed very convincing (suitably grim and grimey).

Keeping on top of whose doing what, where, and why takes work, but it was work I was very happy to do. Recommended.

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