Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Alex Lawther
Directed By: Morten Tyldum
That was a damn fine movie. I’ve still got a few well reviewed movies to see this year, but it might be the best picture of the year. It’s well written, expertly paced, and incredibly acted, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch. The film even manages to jump between three different timelines, and weave a fantastic story. If anything, it really helps bring to light the work of Alan Turing. If you were really into history, or more specifically, the history of computers, you might have heard of Turing. But, I just don’t think enough people understand his contribution, and his sacrifice. Ultimately, we failed him.
Turing is shown in three different times, as a youth (Alex Lawther), as a cryptologist, and after World War II as a normal citizen. As a youth, he’s a young boy who is bullied, and finds a lone friend who understands him and opens up feelings that others don’t believe he should have. As a cryptologist, he fights for his own path, knowing that his path will win the war. As a citizen, he is failed by a probing detective (Kinnear), who ruins his life.
Cumberbatch navigates Turing perfectly. He does actually seem as smart as Turing was, and broken, and hurt. He runs a gauntlet of emotions. It’s easily one of the best performances of the year, and highlights why Cumberbatch has exploded in popularity as an actor. Keira Knightly compliments him, and does a good job playing an intelligent, independent woman when women were not supposed to be intelligent and independent. The unsung hero of the movie is Alex Lawther as young Alan Turing, who will absolutely break your heart. Fuck the Screen Actors Guild for not including him in their ensemble nomination when he is such an incredibly vital part of why The Imitation Game works. Had a different child actor been in those scenes, the film wouldn’t have had the same impact. Sometimes we gloss over child actors in supporting roles, but I was amazed by Lawther. He’s fantastic, and I don’t know why more people haven’t praised his performance.
This is a film that deserves to be seen. It is well written, well acted, well edited, everything you could want from a film. On top of that, it’s a film with purpose, and it feels timely. The issue of Alan Turning being gay, and suffering from being considered a pervert even after everything he did, and all the lives he saved. How a persons memory can be tarnished by something so silly is upsetting. Hopefully we will continue to make change so this doesn’t happen again. Hopefully people learn from The Imitation Game.
FINAL GRADE: A