The Imitation Game(2015)
- RatedNC16 /GenreBiography, Drama, Thriller
The Imitation Game
By now, most might know that Benedict Cumberbatch is a veritable class act.
What is it about this British actor that makes his legion of Cumberfans weak in the knees?
Is it the unruly mop of hair? Or the mellifluous timbre of his baritone voice?
Or that peculiar face which some have likened to an otter?
Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from 'The Imitation Game' | Photo: Shaw Organisation
Animal resemblances aside, the 38-year-old actor has been blazing a trail at home and across the pond since his career-making turn as Khan in ‘Star Trek into Darkness’, though he has also been playing a modern-day Sherlock Holmes on British TV series 'Sherlock' before all that attention. Aloof and eccentric, Cumberbatch’s portrayal as the super-sleuthing genius is otherworldly.
From Sherlock to Khan to Julian Assange (‘The Fifth Estate’) to Stephen Hawking (‘Hawking’), Cumberbatch just possesses a knack for playing really smart (and sometimes tortured) people well.
READ MORE: Benedict Cumberbatch: From Sherlock to Smaug
And it seems that the actor has transferred these qualities, and then some, for his critically acclaimed performance as a genius (again) in ‘The Imitation Game’.
Alan Turing may be Cumberbatch’s most compelling and finest work yet.
So good that he has earned a cartful of nominations for the Academy Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild.
Directed by Morten Tyldum and adapted for film by Graham Moore from Andrew Hodges’ 1983 Turing biography, the movie piles flashback upon flashback on the audience, then bobs along as vignettes and voice-overs weave through the narrative.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, a British mathematician and codebreaker during World War II | Photo: Shaw Organisation
It moves between Alan’s days cracking the Nazi's Enigma code during World War II at the Bletchey Park “radio factory” and his post-war life in Manchester, then flashes back further to Alan’s boarding-school days.
But the gut of the movie is in Bletchley Park, where Alan’s irascible genius puts him at odds with his fellow codebreakers and superiors as he struggles to build the machine that he believes will break the code and help win the war.
READ MORE: Oscars 2015: The nominees
Even with some of England’s finest actors in the cast, including Mark Strong ('Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy') and Charles Dance ('Game of Thrones'), ‘The Imitation Game’ belongs to Cumberbatch.
Who else can render the complicated and quiet intelligence of a genius so eloquently? Cumberbatch gives the character just enough pathos to make us root for him, just a little.
Keira Knightley (left), Mark Strong (centre) and Benedict Cumberbatch give strong performances | Photo: Shaw Organisation
Also great is Keira Knightley, as fellow codebreaker Joan Clarke. Knightley’s brilliant Oscar-nominated performance injects much needed pluck and zeal.
Joan sees through Alan's eccentricities, becoming his confidant and later fiance, though their romance is not as it appears.
Tyldum, nominated for a Best Director Oscar, adeptly gives us what this movie sets out to do: a powerful portrait of Alan Turing set against the intrigue and paranoia of World War II.
Rather than resorting to flashy, obstructive camera work, Tyldum finds greater meaning in the quieter, simple moments.
Occasionally that works against him as the movie feels a little too simple and low-key in some moments, but that reserved sense of storytelling is the film’s charm.
Alexander Desplat’s Oscar-nominated score adds a certain elegance to the film to give those quiet scenes more weight.
‘The Imitation Game’ is a captivating story about one of the most fascinating people on the planet, punctuated by Cumberbatch’s outstanding performance.
‘The Imitation Game’ opens 22 January 2015