“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”: Say that three times fast


“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is a mouthful of a title. It is also a mouthful of a movie. I advise you to not let your attention drift because then you’re in big trouble.

“Tinker…” is based off John le Carre’s novel dealing with espionage during the Cold War. Tomas Alfredson takes a stab at this after the 1979 television mini-series starring Alec Guinness.  Gary Oldman portrays George Smiley, an agent forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a mole that is in the British intelligence.  I found it really funny that Oldman’s character didn’t really come out to play until about thirty minutes into the movie. That’s okay because it was 2 hours.

It was intriguing to watch the investigation unfold with Smiley enlisting the help of Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) and another to figure out the mole. Peter become more of  an interesting character than Smiley does when he must do away with his private life when the investigation begins.

The investigation focused on the Tinker, the Tailor, The Soldier and the Spy. Smiley finds chess pieces in the home of another agent that represents each of the people of the operation. The pieces connection to each of the characters really are my favorite part of the film including Oldman’s choice of glasses (which he took forever in deciding on as he said in a magazine article) Unexpected favorite part: Colin Firth appearing in this film as Bill Haydon, one of the agents that Smiley investigates.

I really can’t go into the details of the investigation because I don’t want to ruin who the mole is (which you don’t find out to the very end) ,but also because I’m still very confused on what was going on at some points. Alfredson would make very abrupt cuts that would flash back from the present to the past, but I of course didn’t realize it at first.

Oldman gained his first academy nomination portraying himself as Smiley.  I can see why Oldman was nominated because Smiley is a complex character dealing with his wife’s affairs, being put into semi-retirement and now finding the mole, but at the same I found Tom Hardy’s performance as Ricki Tarr more compelling. His story does take up a large portion of the film because Tarr is the one that learns there has been a mole in the British Intelligence agency for a while….  just not who.

Check it out and let me know if you think Oldman deserved his nomination or if the movie was stumping you just as much as did for me…  I think I’m going to check out le Carre’s novel to see if it makes more sense that way.

Oscar Nominations:

  1. Gary Oldman: Actor in a Leading Role
  2. Music (Original Score)
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