UK Release by Studio Canal – 14th November 2014
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Brief Synopsis: It is as simple as Alan Turing cracking the enigma code during the second world war. Although, the price of being a genius doesn’t come without its setbacks.
When reflecting upon this film, it is the striking performance of Benedict Cumberbatch that remains lodged in the mind, refusing to shift from memory. Cumberbatch gives a timeless portrayal of Alan Turing, the mathematical genius from Cambridge who tackled the enigma code during WWII, that is dynamic in range and wholly embodying of a fragile, mystical and unique mind that is Turing’s. How does an actor tackle such a challenging identity? To become a genius themself? Dare I say, perhaps this is what Cumberbatch has become. He has the magical power that an actor need behold – a frighteningly good performance indeed.
Alex Lawther is also breathtaking as the young Turing. There is a particular long take on Lawther that attempts to study the face of raw emotion, of which is so remarkably expressed upon the reaction of debauched news. The shot may only last 10 seconds, but it holds the power of a lifetime. Mark Strong (who is ironically ever so stern when he acts), Matthew Goode and James Dance form part of a very firm supporting cast who are always assured to keep the drama on its toes.
Keira Knightley is Joan Clarke, a fine British woman who becomes the unwanted object of desire for Turing and the secondary brains holding his project (and most likely, mind) in one piece. Joan’s character is symbolic of the normal life that could be led and is a drama clenching counter-balance to the times and lives of the code-breakers. Knightley is perfect for the role, but this makes her performance more difficult to admire. She is great at the character she does, but frankly, I struggle to connect with her often brash, trifling and aristocratic demeanor, a manner that manages to seep through each casting choice she lands upon.
What a breathe of fresh and icy cold air it is to see the Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters, Fallen Angels) direct a major motion picture with the range and thrilling espionage storylines of the Scandinavian cinema. It is also an exciting prospect to see the wealth and collaboration of a highly talented and principally European crew come together to produce a global picture.
Not only are the thrills consistently rewarding for the audience, but the emotions are also tipping over the iceberg. With archive footage of WWII air raids and such added to the mix, the real heart of Turing’s cause and war effort shines like the Northern Lights. A dear old lady behind me let out a wail and was even sobbing away through the credits. It made me wonder about the ethics of cinema; is this level of emotion the reaction we want film to resurface in people? Is it fair to leave the cinema in complete tears, something that you paid hard-earned money for? Absolutely! The latter captures the essence of cinema, or any art-from perhaps, and it is positively our heritage to be emotional beings!