Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. A

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was definitely on my must-see list of 2011, but for reasons not worth mentioning, I neglected its theatrical release. So I popped in this movie on blu ray instead, which wasn't too bad; it looks phenomenal in high def because of just how much is packed into so many of the shots. This film is easily one of the best of last year, if not the best. It essentially gets everything right. First off, it's meticulously directed by Tomas Alfredson, who gained fame for his 2008 vampire film, Let the Right One In. Alfredson has an eye for detail and how to construct a great shot. The film makes great use of English architecture, yet Alfredson balances this with plenty of outdoor locations. The movie also uses color better than any film in recent years. Most of the exteriors contain dark clouds, the interiors gray floors, walls, and suits. It's a very somber look, but Alfredson contrasts it with some vivid colors, like the walls of the meeting room, green lawns in a park, and various colored 70s European cars. Aesthetically this film is a marvel, but there's so much going on in the plot that it can be hard to focus on what Alfredson is up to visually. The story, the classic Cold War tale of finding a Russian mole operating within British intelligence, is thrilling. The intensity isn't in James Bond style chases and fist fights, but in just how quickly the story jumps around from one character to another. Being mentally alert might not even cut it. Gary Oldman plays the protagonist George Smiley, a retired agent who returns to the service to investigate the mole. Oldman may be the best thing about the film, giving a performance unlike anything we've seen before. His early days of histrionics are completely abandoned for an extremely quiet performance. Yet as many have cited, his presence is almost terrifying, his silence and his face his weapons. What a watchable, all around great movie this is. It's a spy thriller, not an action movie disguised as a spy thriller (as James Bond as turned the genre towards). I expect most American viewers will be surprised at the limited action, that Smiley never fires a gun. But hopefully this film will inspire more like it. But we definitely won't be seeing any before the next Bond adventure arrives.

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