Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) – Just a pawn in the Oscar hunt.
The Oscars are almost here! Here’s yet another Best Picture™ nomination:
There’s a right and wrong way to do a remake. For example, you don’t take a creepy, slow-paced Swedish film called Let the Right One In and hand it off a year later to the creator of “Felicity.” Instead, you take a classic TV drama made over 30 years ago (plenty of time to bottle age properly) and hand it off to the brilliant director of a creepy, slow-paced Swedish film.
Like all spy movies, there’s a mole and it must be trapped. Why can’t there be a spy movie where everybody is who they say they are and you can trust everyone? Hmm? I think it’s called a Western. Anyway, it’s the Cold War era and there’s a Soviet spy in MI6. George Smiley is Britishly coaxed out of retirement to take care of the situation, and (SPOILER) he does.
As spy movies go, this one isn’t high on drama. It’s a very well crafted, clever film but did not have me on the edge of my seat. That’s what Mission Impossible movies are for. This movie was also pitched early as a “thinking” movie and I completely disagree. Sure, it wasn’t laid out for you in every detail, but the investigative work done by Smiley makes sense and has good results. Story-wise, I didn’t see it as being a great choice for Best Picture©. Where the movie really got my attention was the characters. I swear this movie had every great British actor since… ever. Their attention to detail on the subtlety of the characters, especially by Oldman, convincingly put the movie its proper era – a time of tense distrust and unease.
I also thought the film had a nice high-grain look that lent itself to feeling like you were watching a period film. Hoyte Van Hoytema, the Cinematographer, was the fine gentleman that shot The Fighter as well as Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (can you tell I’m a fan?). Add to that great costuming, nice hair, and you’ve got a realistic piece. Just once I’d like to see costume design win an Oscar for a movie depicting 20 or 30 years back instead of Victorian or Elizabethan times.
All in all, an enjoyable film. I have not seen the original series or read the source text, but it seems to be a crowd pleaser from that respect. I’d probably get better insight into the subtleties of the characters, but it would also ruin the ending so… that’s my defense of going in to a remake unprepared.