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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Tinker Tailor Snore Snooze
Let me preface this review by stating I am an avid cinema-goer who enjoys everything from Spielberg to Von Trier to Van Sant to J. J. Abrams. I'm happy to watch a slow-paced film comprised mostly by dialogue and I'm a fan of several Le Carre books and adaptations. I haven't read the book this film is based on, nor have I seen the miniseries (it was around 20 years before my time) however I don't believe that prior research should be a prerequisite to enjoying a film. I'd watched the trailer with excitement several times and I'm a huge fan of Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy. I expected this film to be an enthralling, intelligent spy movie with a clever screenplay and fantastic character development. However, I couldn't have been more amiss in my expectations (which were perfectly warranted from the trailer). For starters, this film had absolutely no character development whatsoever. I felt absolutely nothing for any of the characters and had the mole - the big twist/surprise of the film - picked in the first half an hour. For me, that was the big twist of the film - I kept expecting a more interesting situation to arise, but it really was that straightforward. The utterly drab and meaningless scenes between the first few minutes and the last few minutes had me urgently wanting to leave the cinema and watch something - ANYTHING - else. I am by no means an unintelligent viewer and balk just as easily at action-packed, CGI-heavy offerings, but Tinker Tailor had me craving an explosion, a shootout - hell, even a gratuitous sex scene - anything at all to break up the long, hard stares that seemed to dominate the film (dialogue was sparse and, when offered, it seemed to be outlining points that were already extremely obvious). I felt almost personally offended by this film, especially because I was a huge fan of the director's previous film, Let The Right One In, and have been very intrigued by Tom Hardy after his fantastic performance in Inception and what looks to be another impressive turn in The Dark Knight Rises. However, at the end of the day, it simply didn't matter which actors were in the film, because there was no reason to care about the characters any of them play. There is no real protagonist or antagonist. A few other reviews have stated that the only redeeming feature was the production design or cinematography - I found both of these to be unexceptional. Obviously that era in London was bleak and depressing but there are ways to portray that in a film without it dragging every already heavy scene into the depths of despair suffered by many in those days (see Scorsese's Gangs of New York or Mendes' Road to Perdition if you want to see enthralling yet accurate portrayals of bleak, desperate times and places). As I haven't read the book I'm not sure if it was an accurate adaptation but I sincerely doubt that a Le Carre novel would be such heavy going with so little character development. If you want to see a GOOD adaptation of a le Carre novel, watch The Constant Gardener. If you like slow paced dramas about lies and backstabbing, watch fellow Best Picture contender The Ides of March, which is also a film based largely around dialogue that actually keeps you interested. Hell, if you for some reason like big-budget feature adaptations of BBC miniseries, watch State of Play. Anything, ANYTHING other than this film I can assure will be more entertaining and rewarding. I'm going to watch the original miniseries because I can see how the story may have its merits, but I have to reiterate just how disappointing this over-written, under-acted snoozefest is. Watch only if you need help getting to sleep.