Wednesday 14 September 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

At last, a film to celebrate. A film that's "brilliant", "flawless" and, as they say, "the film event of the year" (unless you count, say, the London Film Festival. Or the Oscars). A spy film that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator with frenetic editing and dumb set-pieces where rogue agents kill each other with towels and keep falling from heights.

A film that's complex, detailed and subtle, that relies on the nuanced skills of its cast to move the story on. A film that actually eschews traditional notions of comprehensible plotting in favour of having its cast portray an inscrutable air of mystery in order to bluff, double-bluff and double-reverse-counterbluff the audience, each other and themselves.

A film that actually dares to make no sense at all to anyone unfortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the source material or dim enough not to have a degree in Advanced Plot Disentanglement from the University of Confusingly Impenetrable Nonsense. A film that divides the audience into three clearly defined camps: those who get it (the smallest group), those who don't get it, and those who don't get it but are scared to admit it.

A film so unwaveringly baffling that when its Big Reveal finally comes, it has absolutely zero effect because it's nigh-on impossible to work out what's led us to this conclusion. A film that, thanks to director Tomas Alfredson's Scandinavian stylistic traits, looks absolutely fantastic but may as well be in his native Swedish for all the sense it makes.
Bravo. Five stars. I didn't understand a word of it.


  1. From what you have written about T2S2 it is the film counterpart to radio's fiendish convoluted show with workings only understood by a few at any time - 'Mornington Crescent'. How many Smileys do I earn?

  2. I'm seeing T2S2 on Wednesday. Should I read the novel first? If I do, will it help me to follow the film or just add an extra layer of confusion?

  3. I downloaded a free MP3 audio book of T2S2 before seeing the film and with that fresh in my mind it helped me to follow the plot. One touch I liked in the film was that Smiley bought new spectacles at the time of his ejection from the Circus, so it was always easy to spot the flashbacks.

    A brilliant film which I enjoyed.

  4. I've seen it 3 times and may see it again. Tinker Tailor BAFTA Oscar.