Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy DVD Review

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy is a heady cinematic commitment that demands 127 minutes of close attention to stay on board with its wealth of complex characters and dense, slinking plot.

However, the slow burning brilliance and exceedingly dapper aesthetics deserve every second of your concentration, bestowing those with enough patience a great prize.

George Smiley, a former spy and honourable gent wrongly and humiliatingly dismissed by the British Secret Intelligence Service, is covertly rehired after his former employers are tipped off about a double agent in their upper ranks who’s also working for the Soviets.

Through stoic determination, Smiley must work within a web of fragile, disloyal relationships to uncover the mole whilst battling to suppress a personal betrayal by one of these men that caused him great pain.

The gloomy haze of Tomas Alfredson’s meticulous eye has produced something quite special, as the director of Swedish masterpiece Let The Right One In cloaks Le Carré’s crux under a new enigma and presents it on a well dressed bed of questions.

Less concerned with creating a genre-typical glamour thriller doused with adrenaline and fuelled by hollywood pin ups, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy creates a stark and brooding mood that verges on being draining, yet continually pulls back into focus with its sharp developments.

We can almost taste the bitter frustration and isolation within the party of anxious, grey-lined loners that make up The Circus of British intelligence as John Le Carré’s tale of Cold War espionage is brought to play on a chessboard of immaculate period detail.

One thing is certain though; the difficult pacing is deliberate and lends itself to the gritty authenticity of this world, as the spooks and snoops carefully study their chosen subjects. Or even one another, if that’s who they’ve been assigned, diligently waiting for their answers instead of bowling straight in and picking up a beautiful woman along the way.

A cast of names including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy and John Hurt speaks for itself; from Oldman’s portrayal of the melancholy, morose agent George Smiley to Hurt’s embodiment of the crumbling Chief “Control”, each actor affirms the calibre of British acting talent available and on display here.

This is mixed with Alfredson’s seamlessly stylish production design and subtly tense cinematography, as well as the brilliant use of music throughout. Humdrum browns and olive greens employed to bring the seventies alive are electrified by the score, perfectly complementing the sombre, corpse like exteriors worn on the faces of The Circus’ agents.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy never compromises for the benefit of its audience and is all the better for it.

Rebecca Innes

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Dates ‘n stuff

January 2012