“The Imitation Game” is a brilliant film about how the man who broke secrets harbored a secret which eventually broke him. Directed by Morten Tyldum with screenplay by Graham Moore, based on the biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, “The Imitation Game” is the true story of Alan Turing, who, by breaking the Nazi code, helped bring an end to World War II. Beginning in 1939, Turing and his team worked at England’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. Because their work was done in secret, the world did not learn of what Turing and his colleagues did to change the course of the war in favor of the Allies until many years later.
“The Imitation Game” begins in 1951 with the arrest of Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch). During the course of his interrogation, he decides to break his silence, telling his story to the arresting detective, Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear), and warns him that what he’s being told can never be repeated. We then go back and forth in time, beginning with his Turing’s recruitment into the Enigma Program—learning about the work the group accomplished and the relationships that developed within the group and end with Turing’s arrest and the years that followed.
Turing doesn’t suffer fools easily and has an abrasive personality, to put it mildly. He’s not one for diplomacy, speaking the truth as he sees it. Although his superiors, Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) and Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) don’t love his attitude, they do appreciate his smarts.
Through the magnificent acting of Alex Lawther as the young Alan, we see the bullying Turing received as a young student. His boyhood friendship with student Christopher (Jack Bannon) affected him deeply and the manner in which Turing honors him later is a stroke of genius. As an adult, Turing earns the respect of his colleagues, but not necessarily their friendship. Turing helps recruit the lone woman, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), into Enigma and the two develop a warm relationship, which, for a time, proves beneficial to both.
“The Imitation Game” is full of wonderful performances, but as Alan Turing, Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely fantastic. He has the most expressive face which he uses to full advantage in this role. He simply nails all the inner conflicts his character goes through. When the final credits roll, you feel as if you have met the real Turing and walked in his shoes. It’s because of Cumberbatch’s performance that the movie has such a dark, sad feel to it. The film’s supporting cast never lets the main character or the film down. It’s hard to think of someone better in the Joan Clarke role than Keira Knightley. She has a look that fits easily into the style of the times and there is something about her that makes you believe she could be that smart…matching Turing step for step…quip for quip. As his “colleagues,” Matthew Goode and Allen Leech turn in great performances. Each has a moment to shine and each takes that moment and runs with it. Charles Dance and Mark Strong are also very good as Turing’s bosses.
Special kudos must be given to Alexandre Desplat’s magnificent score which suits “The Imitation Game” perfectly. The real black and footage used within the film also lends a great deal of authenticity to the story.
Beginning with television’s WGN America series, “Manhattan,” about the making of the atomic bomb (which has many similarities to “The Imitation Game”) and “The Theory of Everything,” the smartly performed “Imitation Game” joins the growing list of 2014 stories about geniuses and their effect on world events. What makes all of these endeavors work so well is that there are genuine, compelling stories being told and that each one has real heart. Since Turing was eventually convicted of gross indecency, a criminal offence resulting from his admission of maintaining a homosexual relationship, “The Imitation Game” will not necessarily leave you in an uplifted mood…in fact, it could have the opposite effect. Turing, for all of his contributions to the world’s well-being, including being thought of as the father of computer science, was treated abominably. That one can feel so depressed from watching the story unfold from afar…a story that took place many years ago…speaks volumes for everyone associated with “The Imitation Game.”
If you are in the need for a spirit booster upon leaving the theatre, this reviewer suggests seeing “Pride” immediately to see how far we’ve hopefully progressed as human beings.
4 nuggets out of 4