Saturday, 22 November 2014

REVIEW - THE IMITATION GAME (MORTEN TYLDUM)


A soulless biopic of a man almost all of whose contemporaries collectively and individually attempted to denounce as soulless in one way or another. In its efforts to be so many things, to capture the many quirks and qualities of Alan Turing, one of Britain's most interesting figures of the 20th Century, The Imitation Game loses any identifiable sign of a heart, functioning instead as a variety of machines sustaining the film, and thus the viewer's attention, to a sufficient level. Sufficient to win awards, I suppose. Turing's qualities are here isfted out from one another, compartmentalised into separate strands of the story Graham Moore's screenplay wishes to relate. That's a disservice to such a gifted and degraded figure as Turing, and an insult to the many who'll identify with him. Gratifyingly, Benedict Cumberbatch ensures that such identification will endure, with a performance that alters not a jot to accommodate the script's whims, its nasty segregation of these supposedly distinct aspects of his character. Morten Tyldum directs in a humdrum manner, staging rote scenes of triumph and of humiliation to maximal middle-brow impact, extracting measured, apathetic responses from the audience. He's content with the fact that Turing's fascinating story is sustenance enough to buoy The Imitation Game to its end smoothly and successfully; he's largely right, to my dismay. Moore's screenplay is frightfully didactic, and one can detect his awards-baiting intent without even meaning to. He follows the biopic model of screenwriting that determines that a person's life can be distilled to a select few pithy soundbites, while Tyldum follows the biopic model of directing that determines that a biopic is its own genre. They imitate lesser works of art, here dealing with one of recent history's greater human beings. I suspect it is they, and Mr. and Mr. Weinstein, who are the soulless parties after all.