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Three Views: The Imitation Game

December 12, 2014

The Imitation Game Poster

The Imitation Game – An Elevation Pictures Release

Release Date: December 12th, 2014 (Limited)

January 16th, 2015 (Wide)
Rated PG for mature themes and language
Running Time: 114 minutes

Morten Tyldum (director)

Graham Moore (screenplay)

Based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

Alexandre Desplat (music)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing
Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke
Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander
Rory Kinnear as Detective Robert Nock
Allen Leech as John Cairncross
Matthew Beard as Peter Hilton
Charles Dance as Commander Denniston
Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies
Alex Lawther as Young Alan Turing
Jack Bannon as Christopher Morcom

The Imitation Game

Matthew Beard, Matthew Good, Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch and Allen Leech in The Imitation Game.

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The Imitation Game Review By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Benedict Cumberbatch delivers the best work of his career so far in director Morten Tyldum’s handsomely produced biopic The Imitation Game, an expertly acted Oscar contender that already won the coveted People’s Choice Award at TIFF.

At the height of World War II, British forces enlisted the help of brilliant but socially awkward mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to help crack Enigma, a code being used by the Germans to send coordinates of their upcoming attacks.  Leading a group of intellectuals, including sole female Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) who was the closest match to his own fierce intelligence, Alan Turing created a machine that helped them win the war, laying the groundwork for modern computers.

From his walk to the way he clenches his hands, Benedict Cumberbatch is captivating to watch and draws us into the mind of Alan Turing, who was tragically persecuted for his closeted homosexuality, and often found his machines easier to understand than people.  This is a quietly affective performance, infused with the excitement of watching a possibly autistic genius at work, while also allowing for moments of gentle humour and genuine heartbreak.  Keira Knightley delivers an excellent supporting turn, complimenting him and more than holding her own.

A little more focus could have been put on Alan Turing’s homosexuality and other relationships, but overall Graham Moore’s sharp screenplay does a good job of dramatizing his life, affectively using a fractured narrative to add intrigue to this true story.  The film is punctuated by deeply touching flashbacks that movingly show his struggles to understand the world around him as a child, expertly handled by outstanding newcomer Alex Lawther.  The last act focuses on the moral complexity of breaking Enigma, but still not being able to stop every attack, lest the Nazis find out and change the codes.

Although the final images are marked with sadness, The Imitation Game is also inspirational, celebrating Alan Turing’s remarkable achievements, and the ability of those who think differently to help change the world.  Elevated by the excellent ensemble cast, this is an engaging, intelligently written and emotionally affective biopic, that comes alive thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch’s magnetic performance.

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The Imitation Game Review By Erin Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

During WWII the Nazis used an encrypting machine called Enigma.  This was considered to be the best code-making machine of its kind, and seemingly impossible to beat.  In order to try to break the messages that would tell of planned U-Boat and other attacks on the Allies, MI6 in London put together a team of University students, professors, and scholars with specialities in the fields of mathematics and languages.

Among these brilliant minds was a man named Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) – the socially awkward, but geniously intelligent man who loved puzzles and considered the Enigma to be one he could solve.  In order to beat the machine, Turing became obsessed with building a machine of his own – simply put, a computer named ‘Christopher.’  With skepticism from colleagues and partially due to his inability to make friends easily, the project was almost shut down.  But it would also be the thing that would help win the war.

The film tells Turing’s story through flashbacks as he sits in a police station telling of his secret work to an official, after being arrested for being ‘caught’ with a man, as homosexuality was illegal at that time in Britain.  This storytelling device works well and adds another layer to the performance.  And Cumberbatch’s performance is Oscar-worthy.  Sensitive and emotional, while also having a driving persistence for his projects and amazing intelligence, we really are connected to and feel for Turing through his portrayal.

This is in no way a dry biopic – this is an emotional drama about a time and man in history, that has influenced our very lives, even around 70 years later.  The film is entertaining, wonderfully shot, and incredibly moving – dealing with themes that are still at the forefront in places today.  The score by Alexandre Desplat is also very well-matched to the picture and one of the best of the year in my book.  All in all, The Imitation Game manages to be historical, yet timely, and an intense and relatable film.  I can’t wait to see it again.  For hours after seeing the film, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

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The Imitation Game Review By Tony Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The Imitation Game deals with the breaking of the Nazi Enigma code by the team led by Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) at England’s Bletchley Park. Turing was socially awkward and not a team player, but with Churchill’s support overcame the scepticism of his commanders and colleagues to build a machine that could effectively crack the daily codes, a precursor to the computer.

Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) was a brilliant mathematician who broke the gender barrier to be on his team and as a dear platonic friend agreed to marry him as a shield from prosecution for being gay. The film is seen as a flashback narrated about a decade later from an interrogation room following an arrest for indecency.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant portrayal raises The Imitation Game to a level above what is otherwise a solid, if not outstanding biopic, with a fine British supporting cast and period production in original locations.

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Consensus: Dramatizing the life of Alan Turing, The Imitation Game is a moving and intelligent biopic, elevated by an outstanding performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, and excellent supporting work courtesy of Keira Knightley. ★★★¾ (out of 4)

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