<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Morten Tyldum. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear, Matthew Beard, James Northcote
A movie that celebrates the mind and what it can achieve, The Imitation Game is an engaging story of a man who saved millions of lives but was eventually prosecuted for being gay.
Hollywood seems to have stumbled upon a treasure trove of World War II stories recently what with Brad Pitt’s gritty Fury, Angelina Jolie’s moving Unbroken, George Clooney’s not so good The Monuments Men and now The Imitation Game.
Set in World War II but flashing back occasionally, The Imitation Game is a film that is subtle, cerebral and decidedly for more discerning audiences. In that sense it is certainly not like the other war films mentioned above. There are no grim scenes of mutilation or massacre. The only turmoil you see is faced in the mind of one man – Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) the foremost mathematician of the time who applied successfully to become a code cracker for the British Intelligence service MI6.
As most geniuses are often eccentric, so was Alan Turing, whose self-esteem was rather inflated by the knowledge that he was better than most. Well, not at everything though. And in a time when being homosexual was a crime (today, same sex couples can get married in the UK), he had to deal with that – we’re taken back to his schooldays when a fledgling romance with his best friend never comes to fruition to give more depth to his character. But Turing was comfortable with who he was, even though he had to hide it – not always successfully. His fellow code crackers didn’t like him at first but the woman on the team, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) convinces Turing to be more affable.
The Imitation Game also flashes forward at times to when he’s being interrogated by police who have followed his mysterious career and wondered if he wasn’t a spy. Something he was accused of while on the job as well. But Turing weathers it all with a quiet dignity at times and at others an illogical almost childlike outburst that makes you empathise with him. Is he a machine or a war hero who truly wants to do what’s best for his country and not his own ego?
There isn’t much mystery in the film as such but it’s meant more as a biography of a brilliant man who helped changed the course of history. He was weird, socially awkward and gay but as the movie says: “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine.”
British humour and charm flow through the serious story giving you a bit of a chuckle. Cumberbatch is his usual wonderful self. Knightley is lovely and plays her role of strength and support admirably. And apart from the obvious messages about accepting people who are different, the film also serves a reminder to us all that war is to be avoided at all costs.