OK – first things first.

I have not read John Le Carre’s novel, nor seen the Alec Guinness BBC drama, or even listened to an audio reading.

So for me, popping along to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was a completely fresh adventure, with no ‘viewing baggage’ to constantly relate it to.

In all honesty though I could have done with some help as while I enjoyed this thoughtful drama, I am certainly not going to come out and say I fully understood every part of it.

As you may well know by now, Tinker…is a cold war drama, set among the corridors of British intelligence in the 70s.

Turns out head honcho Control (John Hurt) reckons there is a mole in the camp working for the pesky Russians, so he enlists the help of veteran spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) to dig around and find the truth.

Trouble is, there is little evidence to suggest a mole even exists, let alone who it may be.

So it is up to Smiley to poke around filing cabinets and stage shady interviews, which he does through agent confidante Peter Guillam (an excellent Benedict Cumberbatch).

Directed by Tomas Alfredson, who gave us the languid yet luscious Let The Right One In, you know this is never going to be some slam-bang Bond-esque escapade, and anybody expecting such fare will probably be shuffling awkwardly in their seat.

What you do get though is a dialogue-heavy acting masterclass from a veritable who’s who of British male acting talent, from Oldman and Hurt to the likes of Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy.

All are on top form, with Oldman especially producing an excellent performance of restraint.

Yes the pacing is slow and the film pretty much demands your full concentration, such is the complex nature of proceedings.

And, as I alluded to at the outset, I came away with questions unanswered and needing to think the whole thing through to try and unravel it.

The direction is top-notch and full credit must go to the production design as the look and feel of the film oozes the period it is set in.

I certainly do not think Tinker , Tailor, Soldier, Spy deserves the near-hysterical acclaim it is getting in some quarters, but a solid, well-acted, brain-exercising piece of entertainment it most definitely is.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.