Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Based on the novel by John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an impressive adaptation of this Cold War-era spy drama. The film tracks George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a retired agent of the “circus” (the British intelligence unit) who is called back in to dig out a mole who has infiltrated the highest ranks of the service.

The film captures the greyness and, aptly, “coldness” of the cold war and is paced appropriately. Just like the Cold War, nothing actually gets blown up, but often it seems like something is about to blow up. Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) takes the muted tones and understated quality of Scandinavia cinema and applies it to this British film to great effect. Gary Oldman is brilliant as George Smiley, a measured and modest yet incredibly sharp bounty hunter. The cast also includes everyone’s favourite dashing Englishman, Colin Firth, and a brief appearance by Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith in Downton Abbey.

Sticking to my “book before the film” rule, I had bought and read the novel and conveniently finished it the evening before I saw the film. As a result, the story fell into place easily and actually flowed much better than the book. However, this may have just been because I still remembered who everyone was – I have talked to several people who found the film quite confusing. Most of the characters are never really introduced and small plot details are easily missed, so you need to bring your thinking cap to the cinema with you. If you are a self-proclaimed spy novel aficionado or the type who likes to think and analyse rather than “sit back and relax” while at the movies, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy might just be right up your alley.

– Sarah Baillie
This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2012.
Posted 4:53pm Sunday 4th March 2012 by Sarah Baillie .