The problem with award nominated films and the hype that surrounds them, is that it most probably leads to disappointment when you actually watch the film. Unfortunately this was the case for me with The Imitation Game.
Although I was very much anticipating this film, even before the award nominations started to poor in, when I actually saw it, it wasn’t what I expected…. In order to explain why, I’m gonna have to break my rules and spoil a bit the plot, although to my defense, it is based on a true story, so what I’m about to say is more or less history.
First of all, for those not familiar at all with the plot of the film, The Imitation Game is the story of the brilliant British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing and how he helped the Allies during the Second World War to win by cracking the unbreakable code of the German Enigma machine.
Starting with what I did enjoy in this film, Benedict Cumberbatch gave an exquisite performance (as expected) portraying Alan Turing, a complex character that I felt was underrated by the script. Mark Strong was once again really good at playing a sneaky character with a hidden agenda, veteran Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lanister) played pretty well what he knows best: the irritating bastard and Keira Knightley… well was ok. (It seems as if the last time we saw her playing a good part was back in Dangerous Method…) On the other hand, cinematography was good, direction was descent but the narrative flow had some serious issues (spoilers ahead)...
So, I felt that the plot was developed unequally; with the film having two parallel storylines: the conspiracy theory/espionage plot and the issue of Turing’s homosexuality, the latter was developed far less, although it should have played a far greater part, given that Turing’s sexual orientation lead to his arrest, prosecution and later on suicide. On the other hand the whole spy on spy-Mata Hari plot, was taking most part of the film, but blew off very quick, not giving the adequate climax.
Another issue with The Imitation Game is that many aspects of the (true) story have changed. For instance the true Turing, despite the fact that he was indeed strict with his co-workers, he did have friends and a sense of humor and his best friend was not only his machine. Another major issue is that the film shows that his most intimate relationship was with Joan Clarke, while in fact Turing had many homosexual relationships, and in fact was –shockingly for the time- very open about it. A major fictional element on the film is the scene when Turing’s team faces the hard question on whether to save innocent people and expose themselves to the enemy or not do anything and help win the war in the long run. In reality this type of dilemma was never faced by the team, but their superiors. Finally, a major issue is that in the film Turing is portrayed as a traitor by covering a Soviet spy in his team. In reality, the spy was in a completely different department, making it unlikely that they had even met!
But, despite those changes in order to make this story more film material, what I feel that was deeply missing from the film, was how his conviction for homosexuality changed his life and career. Of course, we get to see the “trivia” in the end about the fact that 49.000 men were convicted between 1885 and 1967 and how the Queen granted Turing a posthumous royal pardon in 2012 but given that this law affected so many lives and so many major personalities (Oscar Wilde the most famous one), they should have developed this part of the story far more than the few lines in the end.
Overall, a good film, but I am not sure that apart from Cumberbatch’s performance, it should be nominated for so many awards, especially after the whole Selma snub…
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....