TIFF 2014: The Imitation Game Review
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician and cryptanalyst who helped crack the Nazi Enigma code during World War II. Together with a small but dedicated team, their work helped to significantly shorten the war and save millions of lives. In order to decode the intercepted messages, Turing created a machine that was the precursor to what has become the modern-day computer. Throughout all of this, he kept a secret of his own, that he was homosexual, which was a crime in a less-enlightened era.
With continued interest in stories about significant moments in gay history, I knew this would be an important film to see. Cumberbatch fully embodies Turing in the film, as he delivers a nuanced and likeable performance. It’s devastating to watch as the law enforcement judges him on his sexual orientation rather than the contributions he made to end the war. Both him and Keira Knightley, who plays fellow code breaker and love interest Joan Clarke, shine on screen in this film. Knightley gives one of her most charismatic performances in several years. It will not be surprising when we see their names as Oscar nominees for this film, with Cumberbatch standing a good chance of winning.
While I didn’t feel the split-narrative structure was necessary, it’s not a detrimental element of the film. This is top-notch cinema and has all the right pieces to be an audience favourite and an awards season darling. The elements that make up this film, from the script down to the score, all cohesively unite to tell a captivating story. This is easily one of the year’s best and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot about this one in the coming months.
I love Benedict Cumberbatch wholeheartedly and would watch him in a Shamwow commercial, so I fully intended to see any new film he might have brought to the festival. More than that though, I’ve always been drawn to the tragic story of Alan Turing’s betrayal by his own country. Much like Galileo was judged unfairly by his contemporaries, poor Turing suffered for being born in an unenlightened time. Homosexuality was once illegal in the UK (as it still is in many places around the world), and the genius and war hero’s sacrifices and accomplishments were overshadowed by a personal attribute over which he had no control. And while Turing’s life is long since over, it is never safe to assume that freedoms are guaranteed. By Morten Tyldum creating a biopic of such universal appeal as The Imitation Game, it is one more step in the path to find true acceptance for LGBTQ people of today, and hopefully Cumberbatch’s strong performance will sway some people who may have otherwise remained content to turn a blind eye to the struggle that continues today.
Chantelle’s Review (Spoilers)
I was the only one slighly ignorant of Mr. Turing’s tale of woe, and to be entirely honest (although this is embarrassing to admit) thought that he had been hung for the ‘crimes’ he committed. Learning the truth about his forced hormonal therapy Chemical Castration and suicide was SO MUCH WORSE, and simply boggled and upset me – as I hope it will for many who see this and do not know the extent of the ordeal he had to endure. It’s shocking, and so absolutely unnecessary, to know that not only did this happen to one of the greatest minds of our time, but thousands of others.
Cumberbatch is supurb in this role – making Turing so very likable and endearing while still playing an insensitive ‘jerk’, and manages to make him absolutely nothing like his portral of Sherlock. (Aspergers-y Unsociable Genius? Boy-o do I have the Actor for you!) I want him to get nominated for an Oscar, and I want him to with the crap out of it.