Film Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

by Rachel More

Dir: Tomas Alfredson

Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy

Rating: ★★★★★

Written by novelist John le Carré and transferred onto the big screen by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy delves into the complex and fascinating world of secret intelligence and injects it with deceit, adultery, hot-headedness and jealousy.

Gary Oldman plays George Smiley, an MI6 spy who is assigned one final mission before retirement: to find a Russian mole operating within his circle of colleagues. Each scene is set amid a conflicting European postcard of romance and tower blocks, complimenting the icy mood and confusion of the cold war in which it is set. Violence permeates this film, which opens with a man and mother being shot, but gore does not dominate it. The presence of a fly or a haunted look is employed instead, and a raised voice in a hushed film does enough to unsettle.

Alfredson employs silence as an equally weighted contributor to the dialogue and keeps chat to a very British minimum. Luckily enough for him, then, that Oldman and supporting actors Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch carry off the skill of telling a novel’s worth in just one expression. If it can be said in a mannerism, that will suffice.

The casting revels in the abilities of some of Britain’s most striking male actors, and refreshingly offers a screenplay that keeps the audience gripped until the final shot. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a quiet and understated film, but don’t be fooled- as a thriller, it roars with resonance, and is one of the best of the year.