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Macleans.ca Reviews 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'

“It’s an Oscar-pedigree ensemble piece directed with exquisite grace by Sweden’s Thomas Alfredson”

Brian D. Johnson of Macleans.ca reviews ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’:

‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opens in select Canadian cities this weekend. Based on the 1974 spy novel by John Le Carré, it’s a Cold War espionage thriller that’s actually set during the Cold War.

Unlike Mission: Impossible, this is no action blockbuster. It’s an Oscar-pedigree ensemble piece directed with exquisite grace by Sweden’s Thomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In).

Gary Oldman gives a sly, bone-dry performance as spy George Smiley, who is dragged out of retirement to ferret out a mole, if you’ll excuse the mixed mammal metaphor. He’s flanked by a superb men’s club of a cast—Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Mark Strong—each acting with his own urbane style of understated force. But don’t ask me to even begin to describe the byzantine story. It passed before my eyes like as an utterly incomprehensible puzzle. The plot seems to have been compressed into a mysterious shorthand.

I read the book when it came out, more than three decades ago, and don’t remember much. Those who have read the book more recently, or seen the mini-series, may not find the film so challenging. But no matter how hard I focussed, and tried to keep track, the movie made me feel stupid. It was a bit like watching a film in another language without subtitles. Its cinematic virtues, from the wonderful dour art direction to the silky camera work, became that much more apparent. But sometimes it’s also nice to know what the hell is going on’.

Read this review at Macleans.ca here

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