(KTSF by Sean Au)
The Cold War has provided inspiration to countless products in popular culture over the years. John Le Carré is well known for his series of spy novels set in this era. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, set in the early 1970s, tells the story of how retired spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman), returns to MI6 to flush out the mole at the top echelon of the British Secret Intelligence Service.
Unlike most Hollywood spy movies, there is no car chase and no fighting scene. The audience is invited to join Smiley in his quest to find the double agent who works for Russia. For the majority of the movie, the audience will try to figure out what is going on in the story, a test of one’s patience.
The slow and expert pace shows restraint, though an understated, yet excellent production design, provides a detailed setting that transport us right back to the cold grey world.
“At the heart of it, why the book has enjoyed such longevity is because it is about people,” says Gary Oldman. “It is about love. It is about friendship. It is about betrayal. It is about fidelity. It is about all of those things.”
For playing a strong and still character, Gary Oldman’s Smiley is one that does not draw attention to himself, just as how the best spy should be, blending with and disappearing into the background. This is finally a project worthy of Oldman to headline, and he turns in one of the best performances of his career.
A seemingly convoluted storyline may test the patience of some, but this element of mystery essentially adds to the character of the film, making it an enjoyable journey into the unknown.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Video courtesy of Focus Features.
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