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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Trust no one. Suspect everyone. 

Year: 2011 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Tomas Alfredson 
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds  
An image from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

A stellar cast with the likes of Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, and John Hurt lead this screen adaptation of John Le Carré’s seminal novel of the same name. Fans who followed the BBC mini-series will be doubly pleased to witness this glossy version that restores Carré’s intricately weaved story to the big screen. The film follows agent George Smiley, brilliantly captured by Oldman, as he is forced out of retirement to track down a Soviet spy within the secret service. Caught in a web of deception and personal vendettas with his former colleagues, Smiley becomes dangerously close to both capturing the spy and endangering his own life for the last time.

The narrative web spun by screenwriter Peter Straughan is inextricably convoluted, straying rather far from the original source novel in order to fit the constraints of a two-hour film. Though the film merits appreciation for its original twist on the classic spy story – James Bondesque simplistic plots and even simpler girls are nowhere to be found – its multitude of characters and intersecting betrayals ensure that you have to concentrate to suss out the plot completely. Nevertheless, Alfredson’s direction (building on his success with Let the Right One In) ensures that the tensions and suspense of the spy game are preserved and used to full effect to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Overall, this is yet another mark of how Le Carré’s cleverly crafted and vividly characterized stories can be translated to the screen. For those who enjoy a subtly paced yet excitingly gripping thriller, this is a must-see.

Ana Pereira-de-Souza

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Screenings of this film:

2011/2012 Spring Term (35mm)
2011/2012 Spring Term (35mm)