With a stellar star-studded cast list, including the likes of Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy, it was destined to make critics and film fans sit up and take notice. An adaptation of John le Carré‘s 70’s spy novel, the Tinker, Tailor oozes sophistication as well as successfully setting up palpable tension.
Suspicion is present from the off and director Tomas Alfredson, perhaps best known for his work on the original adaptation of Let The Right One In, uses peering overheard shots perfectly to held aid the sense of distrust in the Circus. A world away from the joviality of clown-filled circuses, le Carré’s Circus is one filled with lies and corruption, set amidst the earlier days of the Cold War. Once the hub of secret information, here, in 1973, it has been infiltrated and it falls on the retired George Smiley (Oldman) to discover the identity of the mole.
With the help of Benedict Cumberbatch as Guillam, Oldman sets about rooting out the Soviet informant. Stakes are high and no one is safe from suspicion. As the film’s run time rolls on fingers are pointed in several directions. It’s slow burning script is drawn out but the suspense is palpable, thanks largely to the appearance of Tom Hardy as Ricki, a tortured soul who seeks solace and revenge.
The cast’s performances are perhaps Tinker Tailor strongest point. The chameleon-like Oldman slips into the role of Smiley effortlessly and exudes coolness as Control (John Hurt)’s methodical go-to man. Supporting cast offer sublime stints too; Firth shines as the potty-mouthed Haydon, Strong is powerful as the wronged Prideaux whilst a rare serious appearance from Kathy Burke offers somewhat light relief to the male dominance in the film. Smiley’s wife Ann remains faceless throughout but don’t let that fool you – she may play a more important role than you initially give her credit for.
Tinker, Tailor is metaphor heavy, with Control’s chess pieces being evocative of the game Smiley is playing whilst the flies that litter the film are reminiscent of the corruption that has infected the supposedly secure unit. Social discontent rumbles on in the background of this well-oiled, if a little long, film, with feminism and fears of homosexuality helping age the movie. The recent gimmickry of 3D is long forgotten thanks to the cool sophistication found in the film’s 70’s vibe.
With knock-out performances and a script that steadily gains momentum, Tinker, Tailor supplies both class and tension rarely found in cinema today.
Best performance: Gary Oldman as the formidable and methodical Smiley.
Best scene: Strong and Firth’s final scene together.
Best line: ‘I feel seriously underfucked’.