Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Gary Oldman, Collin Firth, Tom Hardy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TTSS) reached Indian audience only very recently, although it was released long back. I noticed this silent espionage thriller, adapted from the best selling novel of the same name by John le Carre, got drowned among biggies like Sherlock, MI4 and our very own Don2. TTSS might not be loud, but it sure is puzzling and complex. Not everyone’s cup of tea.
Control (John Hurt) suspects there is a Russian mole high up in the British Intelligence (The Circus). He identifies four men in the echelon of MI6, tinker, tailor, soldier and finally the spy or the the mole. An operation to uncover this goes wrong and he and George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are forced to retirement. After many years during the cold war, Intelligence receives intel from Ricki Tarr, an agent who they thought had defected, that the rumour about the mole in MI6 was true. Smiley is called back to investigate into this unofficially. Smiley begins a series of interrogations forms the film.
TTSS is not your usual fast paced espionage thrillers with a lot of action. TTSS is not loud, its cryptic. It is not loud for the very reason that good espionage is always silent. Plus it is the cold war a period during when information about the enemy was vital. A period when Intelligence became the front line of war and the war was no longer fought in the battlefield. A world of treason, double agents that is so complex and intervowen that you cannot define your enemy anymore. The film succeeds to drive home this point with its slow pace and seemingly complex screenplay.
Intelligence agencies have always been baffling. TTSS takes a dig into this and begins by unearthing this multi-layered plot gently layer by layer, to make it look baffling and confusing. There are a lot of characters (just take a look at the cast) that one needs to keep track, of which adds to the complexity. This seemed to be the only drawback I could point out.
Screenplay was crisp and to the point. The movie doesn’t try to explain itself to the viewer. There are places where one has to do the inference that one plus two is three. The most striking thing I should add about the plot is that even though the final revelation is huge, it is presented in a matter-of-fact way. That is a huge decision to make about the presentation of a film. How it sits well with the audience as an entertainment factor is debatable.
Performances by Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy are brilliant. As there are a lot of characters everyone doesn’t get a meaty share to portray. Even Colin Firth had less screen time. The music wasn’t satisfactorily used to support the movie that well. Its good and it just stays that way.
Tinker Tailor is a damn good movie. It might require re-watching to get a hold of it. Having read the book will help a lot in that case. Its subtle, doesn’t make much noise nor fuss and its gripping. Go delve deeper into the Cold war, the MI6 and KGB and the treasons and thrills surrounding it.