In the early 1970’s during the cold war, the head of british intelligence, Control resigns after an operation in Budapest, Hungary goes badly wrong. It transpires that Control believed one of four senior figures in the service was in fact a Russian agent – a mole. A retired agent is asked by a senior Government figure to investigate a story told to him implying that a mole exists, and to identify the traitor.
Tomas Alfredson brings an adaptation of the 1974 novel of the same name written by John le Carre to the cinemas with ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’. Alfredson is well known for his previous work on the film ‘Let the Right One In’, his latest project is from a screenplay written by Bridget O’Conner and Peter Straughan.
With ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, Alfredson has woven together an immersive story centred around the world of espionage in the midst of the cold war. Overall the film is paced very slowly, the opening act sets the tone for the entire film by taking its time slowly moving from scene to scene and with a strong attention to detail. The remainder of the film is not quite as slowly paced as the opening few scenes which is to the film’s benefit, however it is definitely a slow burn for the duration of the film.
This is a film that demands the audiences complete attention, with great care and meticulous detail, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ is a smart film which seeks a smart audience, without giving up story details easily or obviously it seeks to draw the audiences interest and focus.
The sets utilised here are effective in portraying the era in which the film is set, with minimal use of visual effects a more practical and tangible approach is taken which turns out to be the best choice for this setting. Despite the slow momentum the film is successful in building the tension without the use of elaborate actions sequences as it takes an almost mundane approach to the story where every detail and plot point articulated to the audience is a deliberate decision and relevant to the events unfolding on screen.
As with many adaptations of written works to film, there’s simply not enough time to effectively translate all aspects of the novel, and there are a number of characters which are unfortunately underutilised here, with missed opportunities in fleshing out the characters or exploring their motivations through more than just a few brief scenes or pieces of dialogue, however despite this each character is supported by a solid performance particularly from Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy whom continue to deliver great work in all of their roles.
‘Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy’ has been well crafted and woven together in a manner to be appreciated by audiences looking to be engaged by a film, it is a slow paced and highly detailed story which is not going to entertain everybody, but for those looking for a film which seeks to require their attention with a focus on detail, tension and mystery this film is definitely worth a viewing.
I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ is released in cinemas Australia wide on Thursday 19th January 2012.