Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Imitation Game - Dir. Morten Tyldum

It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to rely on Americans to make our plucky “British prestige biopic” that will miraculously make it to the Oscars.

The Imitation Game is far too safe in its storytelling and never gets past the fact that we know that the Enigma code will be cracked. Despite this, the filmmakers insist on playing out the “race against time” story in full, without explaining in more detail how Turing’s machine worked.

I can’t help but feel that the script for The Imitation Game has been toned down to make it easily digestible for a wider audience. The cutesy dialogue helps to soften Turing’s prickly character but is overplayed and subsequently rings false. Similarly the scene with the headmaster, although brilliantly played by Alex Lawther, doesn’t feel natural and as such I continually questioned the film’s authenticity (this scene it turns out is fictitious).

This man did extraordinary things for our country and we failed him, along with many other men who suffered the same terrible treatment. His premature death, whilst delicately handled, is not given the screen time needed to deliver a satisfying emotional impact. 12 Years A Slave confronted its audience with uncomfortable scenes of torture and asked that they reflect on the abhorrent nature of the slave trade. I should've felt a similar sense of unease and discomfort as Turing's tragic story reached its end, but The Imitation Game shied away from being this unsettling.

I can accept that a certain amount of artistic license has to be taken when transferring true stories to the cinema screen, such as creating composite characters or exaggerating the truth, but too much of The Imitation Game has just been made up.

The Imitation Game is clinically calculated and painfully simplified; written, produced and financed by Americans, for Americans.

The Imitation Game was released in UK cinemas on 14th November 2014. Photos and trailer courtesy of Black Bear Pictures, StudioCanal and The Weinstein Company.

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