Dramatic, humorous, eye-opening. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Alan Turing in this World War II film is breathtaking and the story captures his triumphs, setbacks and the tragic irony of his life and times as a brilliant codebreaker beautifully in this film that screams Oscars in every way. Recommended? This movie captures the elements of a stellar war, social injustice and genius biopic film in one impressive package.
This movie is driven by the strong screenplay behind it. Adapted from Andrew Hodges’ “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Graham Moore, the story is told through an interrogation many years after the war about Turing’s classified work for the government. While not the most original tactic, it puts the movie into perspective, showing that Turing’s work is only in the context of how people see him as a man at the end of it all. The arcs of humour and character development throughout the movie are also well developed, each growing and pulling back as needed.
Interspersed throughout the film are scenes of war and struggle for safety suffered by the people of Great Britain at the time of war. While not the most technically impressive war scenes, having been done better elsewhere and likely thrown in for a feeble attempt at a Best Production Design or Visual Effects Oscar nomination, these scenes helped to carry the sense of urgency throughout the film. A lot of the production design was beautifully executed. The scenes in many of the finer establishments, such as Bletchley Park, were elegantly constructed and vivid in colour, but cleverly left to sit under the darkness that loomed over Britain at the time.
At the centre of this film are the performances by Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke. While cited for over exaggerating Turing’s social awkwardness, Cumberbatch’s performance brings the kind of quirkiness and eccentricity that we see in other beloved performances like Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network or Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory. He comes off extremely logical and cold at times, but pulls off witty and friendly seamlessly, showing us two sides of the same person as opposed to acting like two different people. Even though she is not cited as one of Hollywood’s best actresses, Knightley gave the class and dignity that she often brings to the table in what may be one of the best performances of her career. She holds her own next to Cumberbatch and gives Joan the strong push that she needs to hold her own next to the other men on the team.
At first, The Imitation Game seems like an easily overlooked historical docudrama about some pretentious dead guy who did something great many years ago, changed the world and was celebrated for it. But upon seeing the movie, it is funny, exciting, engaging and very well produced. It transports viewers to a different era where time is of the essence and every second counts. Save for some historical inaccuracies, the emotional ground for the film and underlying message are strikingly real.