The Imitation Game
Director: Morton Tyldum
★★★★ (out of five)
Darting between narration, real old war footage and the opening exchanges between the lead characters, The Imitation Game strikes an immediate impact.
Battling the ramifications of the Allies fight against Nazi Germany, society’s rejection of his sexuality and his social ineptness, Cumberbatch’s journey as Turing is hard-hitting.
Director Morten Tyldum uses three major time periods to tell this remarkable story: Turing’s school years, his time spent at Bletchley Park trying to crack the Enigma Code and the period following his arrest for gross indecency.
A suspicious robbery in Turing’s home in 1951 Manchester is one of the first scenes where we get a glimpse of Cumberbatch’s embodiment of Turing’s complex character. Unable to understand the humorous and sarcastic tone of two policemen who are sent to investigate the crime, he draws our empathy.
The underlying comedic tone is followed throughout the story, owing more so to Turing’s lack of self-awareness to how he’s perceived by those around him. Turing’s interview at Bletchley by Commander Alastair Denniston (played by Charles Dance), after which he was ultimately hired, provides an entertaining, if predictable exchange between the pair.
Along with several other code-crackers, including the charming and confident Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and Scotsman John Cairncross (Allen Leech), they struggle through the days, months and years at Bletchley trying to break the Enigma Code.
Playing one of Britain’s best minds hoping to reach a resolution to end the war, Allen Leech rises to prominence as the film gains momentum. The Dublin-born Downton Abbey star does a convincing Scottish accent playing a character who becomes one of Turing’s key men in the Bletchley years for reasons that piece together as the story unfolds.
Flashbacks to 1928 to a younger, even more awkward version of himself (Alex Lawther) as a school boy hint at the issue of Turing’s sexuality. Striking up a strong bond with a fellow classmate (Jack Bannon), he is first introduced to the idea of problem-solving and code-breaking. Tragically, his friend passes away and it seems he never fully recovers.
The arrival of Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightly) onto the code-cracking team as a speedy crossword maestro leads Turing to establish an endearing friendship, that at times teases as something more.
It’s an incredible on-screen journey, re-telling the tale of a nation’s battle to overcome Nazi domination.
But, it’s the pain of one man’s personal suffering and wish to be accepted by the society in which he lives that really strikes a chord.
In cinemas November 14