Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy


Starring: Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, David Dencik, Ciaran Hinds, Kathy Burke, Tom Hardy, Amanda Fairbank-Hines, Simon McBurney, and more.

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson Screenplay by: Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan Based on the Novel by: John le Carre Original Music by: Alberto Iglesias

Premise: A forcibly retired spy in the 70’s is asked for one more task after it appears that what had been thought of as the paranoid delusions of the previous head of British Intelligence about a mole in their ranks appears to be a possibility after the man’s passing. (Rated R)

Review: This film is a slow puzzle being put together from floating pieces of yarn or random dots. The trick is to figure out which dot is the right one, the correct starting point you need to connect the line for the next one and then the next – the most innocuous of things actually are clues to the whole.

If you’re sleepy or tired, that’s not the time to see this movie. If you blink you might miss something important. Take a restroom break at your peril! Clues are everywhere, and some are incredibly subtle.

Tons of kudos to all the actors in this piece. A lot of information is gleamed from looks, a stumbled step, who finds what or not amusing. It was a lot of fun compiling all the information being provided to realize the motives and secrets laying about in the hunt for the mole.

The film might not satisfy younger tastes as it is full of seemingly random scenes and builds at a slow pace. The few sections of violence are brutal though also mostly implied. The hunt is mostly mental rather than physical, each piece leading towards the next.

What was truly lovely in the plot was a tandem mission within the mission. One that despite seeming to be irrelevant and nothing but a distraction, actually meant more than imagined when seen in the whole. There is a ton of subtext –  another reason why you dare not blink. And it was marvelously shared. The scene at the small airport towards the end was chucked full of subtext from the moment Toby entered the car with Peter. Lovely. You’ll leave the film flashing on little nuggets and getting new insight all the way home.

Two items that I found super interesting was how the fired head of the Circus (British Intelligence) was only ever referred to as Control. He even signed his dispatches as ‘C’. The other was you never see the face of Ann. Also was fun watching the route within HQ of the sensitive data. So many little touches!

This is a film about the rewards of long term loyalty, trust, honor, of the impacts we make on other peoples’s lives which could have far reaching impacts even from a short, casual meeting.

As for the title – it is a reference to the nicknames given to those who might be the mole. So truly it is Tinker, Taylor, Soldier.

If you like puzzles and mental spy games, this is for you!

Rating: 4 out of  5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)