Film review: The Imitation Game (5 out of 5)
There were many heroes during the second world war - both men and women - whose actions saved numerous lives.
However, there’s a powerful argument that a gentle, irascible, annoying mathematician - one Alan Turing - saved more people than most but never wore a uniform or picked up a weapon.
Most of us have heard of the Enigma Machine, the German second world war cypher that was deemed to be unbreakable.
And the work of Bletchley Park, the secret Buckinghamshire HQ for code breakers, has also been well publicised.
However, the work of Turing has only recently been recognised, but this film redresses the balance somewhat.
The movie starts with his recruitment specifically to break the Enigma Code in the famous Hut 8 at Bletchley.
However, Turing is shown not to be a team player, nor very good at making friends and is constantly at odds with fellow code-breakers and his overall boss Commander Denniston (Charles Dance).
In fact it’s only when he gets another maths genius Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to join them that she manages to coach him in some life skills.
The excitement of the code breaking is interspersed with Turing’s mostly miserable life at school and the 1950s when he was charged with gross indecency.
Turing’s homosexuality is at the heart of the man’s story - his lost loves, the conflicts he faced and the shocking treatment he received post-war.
Benedict Cumberbatch is simply brilliant as Turing, combining a deep sadness with unintentional humour as he attempts to interact with others.
Knightley adds a much needed feminine touch in a male-dominated world and helps us delve into Turing’s emotions as she becomes his friend.
Backing them up superbly are Mark Strong as an MI6 agent and Matthew Goode as Turing’s fellow code-breaker.
Norwegian director Morten Tyldum reveals an unexpected knowledge and understanding of English manners and social ways.
However, anyone who has seen his excellent 2011 movie Headhunters will have had no doubt about his credentials as a great film-maker.
Special mention has to go to Alex Lawther who plays the young Turing. Not only does he match Cumberbatch’s facial expressions and mannerisms he also provides one of the most emotional moments of the movie and Tyldum has no qualms about focussing on the young actor’s face as the maths prodigy attempts to keep his emotions in check.
Overall, this is a well crafted film that will feature highly at awards time and is a fitting tribute to a man who saved millions of lives by helping to stop the war.
Film details: The Imitation (12A) 114mins
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol