tue 21/05/2024

The Imitation Game | reviews, news & interviews

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch: a memorable Alan Turing

Benedict Cumberbatch: never better as computing genius Alan Turing in 'The Imitation Game'

“He should be on banknotes.” Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken of his character, real-life hero Alan Turing, as if he knew him. Turing, who died in 1954, was the father of computing and, more importantly, a secret WWII hero as told in The Imitation Game.

This highly anticipated biopic of Alan Turing, who was not only a gifted mathematician but also an ultra-marathon runner, is made even more alluring by an exquisite cast of Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Alan Leech (Tom in Downton Abbey), with Charles Dance and Mark Strong muscling up pivotal supporting roles.

This beautifully designed and photographed period drama, adapted from Andrew Hodges’ book The Enigma by debut screenwriter Graham Moore, centres on three important points of Turing’s life: boarding school, a miserable existence before his death in the 1950s, and his critical work defeating the Nazis' Enigma encryption device.

The first English-language feature by Morten Tyldum, the Norwegian director best known for the high-quality thriller Headhunters, The Imitation Game is a sleek affair built for a global audience. A Beautiful Mind and Enigma are obvious comparisons, yet The Imitation Game has something for everyone: war adventure, betrayal, political intrigue, love, romance, drama, deception, comedy and heroism. Tasteful, it is true, this feature also vividly portrays the pain of war and the injustices of that age. It is to Tyldum and Moore’s credit that subtle complexities are handled with clarity and tact. The fact that Turing was homosexual - and obliged to submit to the humiliation of chemical castration - is not shied away from. And yet there's no sex because it isn’t necessary here. Love, which is vital to this story, is.

Some critics are lambasting this feature for not being sexually explicit enough

Having been made by exactly the cast and crew desired and independently funded, Cumberbatch was onboard this production from the start: some joked he timed his recent engagement (as announced in The Times) to theatre director and actor Sophie Hunter to promote the film more effectively. He is perfect here as Turing, both emotive and credible, his blue eyes spotlit by cinematographer Oscar Faura (The Impossible). Knightley gets a chance to play smart and emotionally intelligent as Joan Clarke, mathematician, friend and fiancée of Turing. Worth noting are the superb production design by Maria Djurkovic and a memorable score by Alexandre Desplat.

Already, some critics are lambasting the film for not being sexually explicit enough while others have decried it for being too "British". The quality of this production can withstand all comers: The Imitation Game is the kind of film the United Kingdom is famous for. Excellently acted, wonderfully designed with a cracking good story, this true tale is a milestone for biopics to come.

Excellently acted, wonderfully designed with a cracking good story, this true tale is a milestone for biopics to come


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters