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Tinker Soldier: slow scenes create some Zs

By Kyra Smith-Cullen in Arts & Entertainment

April 12, 2012

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“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is about a former British spy George Smiley who is called back into service during the Cold War. His mission is to verify the former Head of Intelligence’s suspicions that there may be a mole in the department, leaking crucial information to Russia.

The plot, though familiar, is intricate and interesting. The only hard thing is that there are so many small details that need to be featured in order to unravel the thread of the story. Because of these details, there are areas where it seems slow.

I can appreciate the director’s efforts to keep the audience well informed, but it drags in some places.

I wanted to doze off while watching it, so I don’t recommend seeing after a filling meal – you might have to rewind to understand what is happening.

If you ignore the slow parts, then the movie is terrific. At the beginning, I had a vague idea of who the mole might be, but twists kept forcing me to question my decision and to even change it several times.

The cast was excellently selected. It was easy to see why Gary Oldman, who played George Smiley, was nominated for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.” His portrayal of a quiet spy who has given up much of his life for his country was terrific, and we see that it has cost him his relationship with wife.

But just as good is Colin Firth in his role as a member of ‘The Circus’, which is the inner circle of MI6. Each actor plays his part well, encouraging me to either question their loyalties or to pray that they weren’t the mole.

The camera angles were fascinating, drawing my attention to small details that seemed unimportant but turned out to be critical to the plot. In flashbacks, there was a very filmy – no pun intended – quality to it that made it seem like a memory without going over the top.

The costumes, which were designed Jacqueline Durran, were perfect for the period and mood of the movie. The suits were neutral colors that fit well with the spies, as they were all in the business of being unnoticed.

Even the more vibrant colors appeared dull, emphasizing the bleak outlook of the period.  Nothing was bright and cheery, just blah and dreary.

To sum it up, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a great movie. It’s a spy movie, yes, but it doesn’t focus on the physical dramatics that have become associated with the genre. I would suggest it for anybody looking for an intense mystery that leaves you guessing at each plot twist. Just don’t watch it when you’re sleepy…

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