Saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at the Westhampton Theater (in Richmond, VA) today. It was great!
I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I last saw a film that assumed intelligence on the part of the audience. It’s a very quiet film, and lots of information, clues, hints, etc. about the goings on in the story are given briefly in visual moments, mentioned in very short conversations, etc. You have to pay attention and make inferences where appropriate.
Gary Oldman is spectacular. I’m not sure he says a word for the first 15 minutes of the film, to be honest. His presence demands attention - his silence commands it! His George Smiley is played perfectly… it makes me want to go back and watch the miniseries that was made in 1979 with Alec Guinness in the role of Smiley just to compare interpretations.
Two fairly important characters in the story (Smiley’s wife and Karla) are never even seen face-on — which I loved. Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job in the complicated role of Peter Guilliam. Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux is another effective performance. I have to admit, I find John Hurt is “John Hurt” (i.e. the same sort of character) in so many films that I find his presence in this one rather distracting.
And the sparse use of Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds and David Dencik, was, I thought, really well done. I think it’s pretty rare that you bother to put actors with a lot of face recognition into a film and then use them sparingly.
Gary Oldman was interviewed on Fresh Air last week and mentioned a couple of scenes that were not in the film that I saw. I hope this means there will be a director’s cut that puts back in additional content. I hope to see him in the list of nominees for Best Actor at the Oscars!!!
Super big thumbs-up from me on this one!