“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine,”
I open with this line directly from the film, because it reminds me so much of why we do the great things we’re capable of doing, although others may be blind to our greatness. I’m not the type of person who gets up after a film has begun, usually because I’m too enthralled, or too afraid of missing some of the magic. This is one of those films. You will sit through the magic, and you will want to experience it over and over. You see, this film is very much about not only living our best lives, but also about being our most authentic selves. It’s about friendship, loyalty, and to an even greater extent, LOVE in all its variations and forms. Now….
Can I just say I’m SPEECHLESS (at first anyway) with how perfect and how strong of an ensemble cast this is?!?! There are no weak roles, no false notes, no strange voices or pairings where they should not be. No one feels like a fish out of water. Knowing the history of Alan Turing (hello, he’s the Father of Modern computing for chrissakes look him UP!!) as I did, I wasn’t surprised when Benedict Cumberbatch was chosen to play Turing.
In fact, what I was expecting was for him to be pompous. I wholeheartedly expected him to OVERDO this role because it would be so easy to do just that. I expected him to over emote, I expected him to apply his own personal aura to Alan’s idiosyncrasies.
Unequivocally, I bow before him, because not only did he give Alan his due diligence, but it’s clear that not only him being chosen, but his masterful performance, encouraged the REST of the cast to bring their own sort of brilliance onto the silver screen.
From beginning to end of this marvel of a film, you are completely lost in each character, completely lost in the enigma (ironically enough) that is cinema. Not a single person makes you regret them being cast. The façade of the actor is gone, consumed solely by the integral part they are playing. There are films that do this but are usually focused on the lead and maybe a supporting cast. It’s very rare to find an entire ensemble cast that can do this, as has been done here. Such a rare gem, from such a rare group.
This brings me to the connections between players. The chemistry and how it’s essential to a great film to find what works, and make every attempt to minimise what does not.
The relationships in this film are SO very important. Alan and Christopher (both digital and not), Alan and Joan, Alan and Hugh, Alan and Stewart, and Alan and John. As you can see by this listings, it was absolutely essential that Alan (played fantastically by Benedict) have a sort of cosmic chemistry with nearly all in the film, because he is the black hole at the centre.
You find yourself having moments where you envision having a conversation with someone in your life EXACTLY like the one being had on screen and there are moments when that frighten you even though it should not!
You are watching these people and you can literally see the puppetry lines that connect each character in such a way to the others. It really is like watching a puppet show. This move brings about this moment, pull that strings and the others begin to dance. You even see the pangs of regret or shame as each person makes the decisions in every case they are forced to make, and there is no false equivalency here. You know how and you most certainly know WHY.
I must tip my hat to the people responsible for the sets, cinematography, and COSTUMES for this film. It’s genuinely NOT easy to fit a period piece. There are subtle nuances in fabrics where you realise that one costume is made of a material that no longer exists or is no longer used.
It’s amazing what the mind can create, when this level of creativity and levity is allowed. Something as simple as Joan’s earlier dresses which were a lighter material because her family was solely responsible for her wardrobe, later changes to a much more luxurious, fashion forward material and style. Things like Alan’s earlier versions of Christopher.
Yes, these are props but in their own way, they tell a story in a way that only a visual aid can. It’s like, where someone hands you something that you have NO idea what it is, you enquire, and they tell the tale. Every single piece has its own story, shines its own light, and carves its own path.
Up until I believe 1967 there was a sort of Salem Witch Hunt that occurred in the United Kingdom for LGBTQ persons. More so often than not, men whom were gay, were unjustly prosecuted, and sentenced to things like Prison, Chemical Castration, and worse still were blacklisted, unable to work, and thus unable to live.
One of the things The Imitation Game does EXTREMELY well, is to make brilliant social commentary on the hypocrisy that was this witch hunt. Here we have Alan, one of the world’s most brilliant people, at such a young age showing promise and sharing a gift as only he could. And yet he can’t even live his life as the man that he is because of bigotry.
This film shows you the great horrors that men like Alan were forced to endure, and it also showcases that while this was the law in the UK, it was a very unpopular law, and had far too many casualties. In a sense, a war within a war. Lives lost both theoretically and physically. Far too many paid the ultimate price on both battlefields.
What Does NOT Work:
After a performance like that? I’m supposed to find a flaw? To be honest? There are NONE. Is a film being too short, a flaw? Is a film so real, so connecting, so enriching that it leaves it mark for life upon you, a flaw?!?! Is a performance so brilliant and enigmatic that you find yourself finishing the characters sentences before they do (and no NOT because the screenplay is predictable, ironically enough, it is not) a flaw?!?!
I wanted to find fault with this film. I wanted to find a reason to knock off a star, to have a negative opinion, to have an off the cuff point of view to say what doesn’t work. What does not seem like it fits in such a setting, such an important topic as the Father of Modern Computing and all he endured. I did NOT find that. It should scare me a little, but honestly it’s freeing. It’s exhilarating. It’s the power of a 1000 suns. It’s magic from the very 1st opening scene until the closing act. And THAT how it should because as all my readers should know by now…The Magic NEVER Ends!
#MUSTSEE #SheCritiques #WhatWorksWhatDoesNot
Joyll Cambridge hails from Manchester, United Kingdom and currently lives in New York, New York. She loves all things movies, fitness and swirling. To read Joyll’s personal blog at The Humanist Exec, click here.
Joyll joined our team as our Resident Movie Reviewer. To contact Joyll or request a review of a specific movie, email her at SheCritiques@TheSwirlWorld.com.
Copyright ©2014 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, All rights reserved. Photo of Joyll Cambridge used with permission. Movie poster from the movie “The Imitation Game” obtained from IMDB.