Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Imitation Game - 8 stars out of 10

The Imitation Game - 8 stars out of 10

“The Imitation Game” is a fascinating historical thriller that focuses on Alan Turing’s race to crack the Nazi Enigma code during World War II.  While the writers’ artistic freedom led to several historical inaccuracies, it still properly portrays the seemingly impossible task faced by England’s finest cryptologists.  Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely fantastic as Turing.  Cumberbatch has become a global phenomenon through his role on “Sherlock” as well as his popularity in Hollywood.  An Oscar nomination is just one more listing on his already impressive resume.  His standoffish, socially awkward interpretation of Turing may not be historically accurate, but it creates a dynamic character.  I also loved watching Keira Knightley light up the screen as Joan.  The film doesn’t focus on the inequality faced by women in the workplace, but she creates awareness of the issue and kicks it in the butt without ever directly addressing it.  I’ve never been a fan of hers, but she impressed me twice this year with “Begin Again” and now this role.  The “thriller” aspect of this film is very psychological.  There isn’t much action but our personal distaste for the Nazis keeps our hearts pounding with desperation for Turing to crack the code with his Turing machine (a.k.a. predecessor to the computer).  It definitely reads as if we were watching history.  I wish I understood how the machine actually works, but I’m glad that the writers maintain the momentum without stopping to explain.  I love the story of Turing’s machine, but I was put off by the ending of the film.  I was not opposed to the truthful look at Turing’s homosexuality and its effect on his life.  It would have been a historical injustice to ignore it, but I believe that the writers could have approached it without becoming so preachy at the end.  Rather than making a poignant point about how government treatments for homosexuality affected the life of an important historical figure, it almost began to feel like propaganda.  I walked away from this film feeling as if the writers tricked me into watching this thrilling story in order to subject me to a 15-minute gay rights agenda that was loosely tied to one of the movie’s themes.  “The Imitation Game’s” 8 Oscar nominations reflect the quality of the story and acting, but its ending left me wondering whether I just watched a great story or a strongly opinionated argument.

[Pictured: It's amazing how much suspense is created from people looking at a machine!]

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