There's a lot of awards buzz flying around 'The Imitation Game' at the moment. But is the film worth all the hype?
In a word, yes.
'The Imitation Game' tells the story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch, 'Sherlock'), a brilliant if irascible mathematician who takes on the challenge of breaking the Nazi Enigma Code during World War II. He's joined by a team of engineers and mathematicians, including Matthew Goode and Keira Knightly. Turing, however, has secrets. Interspersed within the story of the Enigma machine are flashes of his past and future.
The cast (mostly) put their hearts and souls into their performances, and if Cumberbatch isn't at least nominated for an Oscar, I'll be very surprised. Knightly gives one of the best performances of her career, and Mark Strong reminds us why he's so good at playing sneaky. Matthew Goode and Rory Kinneer don't get nearly as much notice as they should, as they're both actors of a very high calibre. However, Charles Dance's role as Commander Denniston is just Tywin Lannister (his 'Game of Thrones' role) in a Navy uniform. Dance seems to be cast as only one character these days, just transplanting his own mannerisms from one situation to the next. It's a little disappointing, because we know he's capable of so much more.
While all the players are brilliant, it's Cumberbatch who simply shines. Turing's turmoil is evident in every twitch, every stammered word. It's a masterful performance from one of this generation's best, drawing out real empathy for the appalling treatment of a man who arguably saved millions.
The directing is good. Unobtrusive, though I get the sense that while very precise, director Morten Tyldum allowed his cast to flourish where needed. Editing is likewise - precise and careful. There are no wasted moments, and flashbacks are timed perfectly and never feel out of place. The music is exactly what a film score should be: it enhances without being distracting.
'The Imitation Game' is an excellent film. A true story, it provides more food for thought than you'd expect, and is rather entertaining. Amongst all the seriousness are moments of genuine humour and joy that help to make 'The Imitation Game' a front-running contender for this awards season.