WRITTEN BY: Graham Moore
DIRECTED BY: Morten Tyldum
STARRING: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance
RATING: 4 stars
My initial reaction to The Imitation Game was all positive. It is an intriguing story with a solid cast and a touching tribute to an important man in history. Unfortunately, after doing some research into the truth behind the real story, I realised that the film had taken more than a few liberties with the tale. However, despite the string of inaccuracies, The Imitation Game remains a fascinating and enjoyable film.
Mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) applies for a job as a code-breaker for the British government during World War Two. During his interview with Commander Denniston (Charles Dance), Alan reveals he is not there as a patriot, but rather, he wants a chance to solve the world’s most difficult puzzle, the German Enigma. Seeming almost autistic (which he was not in real life) and rudely arrogant, Alan immediately alienates his colleagues, led by the suave and intelligent Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode). Alan wants to build a machine that will crack the Enigma so that the Allies can intercept their plans and end the war. He also enlists the help of fellow code-breaker Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley).
Graham Moore has written the screenplay based on a book by Andrew Hodges. The film jumps back and forth in time depicting the war, Alan's childhood and life after the war when he is investigated for homosexuality, which was a crime in England at the time. The structure works well to provide greater insight into Alan's life. Director Morten Tyldum does a great job of balancing those moments without ruining the flow of the narrative.
Cumberbatch wonderfully portrays Alan's heartaches and quirky personality. It is one of his best performances to date. Knightley has a vital role as the only really significant female in the film and she has great chemistry with Cumberbatch in their odd romance. Goode is all charisma and Dance is appropriately gruff, while Mark Strong is delightful to watch in a small role as a secret agent.
The Imitation Game certainly has flaws, but it is such compelling viewing that even if it were an entirely fictitious story, it would be just as enjoyable as knowing that many of the key events and turmoil in the film actually happened.