Spoiler Alert: There’s no tinkers or tailors in this movie.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a film about lies. It is an incredibly slow, subtle and grim depiction of cold-war paranoia and mistrust, told from the perspective of a veteran spy investigating the very people he should trust. It’s very British and very old-fashioned, but both lend themselves perfectly to the 60s setting and the classic feel.
Oldman’s performance is so quiet that you could miss it if you blinked. Besides a standout scene in which he describes a meeting with the enemy, his performance is reserved and powerful, expressing a life-long weariness and a stubborn determination through Smiley’s slow, deliberate dialogue.
Oldman is backed up by the kind of “Best of British” ensemble cast that would rival a Harry Potter movie; Colin Firth, Mark Strong, John Hurt and two amazing performances from Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch, proving them both as major talents-to-be.
Even Trig from only fools and horses shows up.
Tinker Tailor is one of those movies that’s more about what’s not said than what is said. The audience must work hard to read between the lines and interpret subtle looks and glances. It’s a rare and rewarding experience, but one that’s probably not to everyone’s liking. Out of a spot survey of the five of us who ventured to the cinema, 40% said it was brilliant and 60% said it was one of the worst films they’d ever seen. Tinker Tailor is undoubtedly slow-moving and decidedly grim and grey, so it definitely isn’t a fun, throwaway Friday evening flick.
What it definitely is, is a beautifully directed study of the permeating sense of mistrust and duplicity that existed in cold war Britain and the solitary nature of a job in which your primary assets are treachery and lies.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS