The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
114 mins; Class 12;
KRS Releasing Ltd

The Imitation Game is a film that will in all likelihood earn Benedict Cumberbatch his first Oscar nomination, for he absolutely shines as Alan Turing in this top-notch biopic.

Turing was the man whose brilliance cracked the unbreakable codes of Nazi Germany’s Enigma machine during World War II, finally bringing the war to a close and saving millions of lives in the process.

The film focuses mostly on Turing who, together with a motley crew of fellow scholars, desperately worked night and day at Bletchley Park to crack the codes.

The film is bookended by haunting and moving scenes of Turing’s life in 1952 when, after a reported burglary at his home, he was arrested and charged with gross indecency – for Turing was a homosexual, then still a crime.

As can be imagined, it is a role that Cumberbatch sinks his teeth into with relish, creating a captivating portrait of a true genius, whose complete in-ability at social skills made him hugely unpopular with his peers until they recognised his true genius.

Turing did not do himself any favours with his obnoxious and offputting behaviour, especially since he spent most of his time on his electro-mechanical code-breaking machine – a giant contraption of knobs and wires his colleagues and superior thought was a colossal waste of time.

Top-notch biopic

Cumberbatch embodies the man to a tee – the genius he effortlessly exudes and the arrogance he so often displays. A scene where he writes to Winston Churchill when his superiors do not give him what he wants is priceless.

Needless to say, Churchill gives it to him – the awkwardness and vulnerability instigated by his closeted homosexuality – and a childhood in which he suffered much bullying and the loss of his closest friend. It is a performance of emotion and nuance. He enriches the film further with his ongoing narration of the events of his whole life, drawing us in further.

Cumberbatch has solid ensemble beside him. Keira Knightley is delightful as Cambridge mathematics graduate Joan Clarke who Turing insists be on the team, Matthew Goode as the suave Hugh Alexander, whose dislike of Turing eventually grows into grudging admiration and tentative friendship, Charles Dance as admiral naval commander Alastair Dennist and Mark Strong as the head of MI6 Stewart Menzies.

Graham Moore’s script captures the tension inherent in the situation, culminating in the race against time as the protagonists fail day in day out all the while the Nazis are fomenting death and destruction all over Europe.

The Imitation Game is a typically elegant period piece, rich in historical detail aided by the production and costume designs of Maria Djurkovic and Sammy Sheldon Differ. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum keeps the momentum going. If this may seem like a slick, award-baiting production, it is nevertheless a sorely-needed tribute to a man whose treatment at the hand of the authorities was abominable.

Turing’s work cannot be ignored. Not only were his war efforts noble and heroic, but, as we are told before the closing credits, “his machine was never perfected, though it generated a whole field of research into what became known as Turing Machines. Today, we call them ‘computers’”.


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