Sometimes anticipation can be a dangerous thing. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opened in September in the UK and I was sad to leave the country just two weeks before the premier. It got solidly good reviews. Alas, it wasn’t to open in the US until December.
December came and it opened in a handful of theaters somewhere in the US and got very good reviews. But there was no sign of it anywhere in my area.
Last Friday I was flipping through the local paper and there was a review and beside it an ad for its opening at the local art theater. My brain began buzzing with possible plans to see it. Those plans required working around lots of other plans and finding a time when I could borrow a car.
On Monday I finally did it. I hopped in the car and headed across town. Even in line for my ticket I somehow believed that they would sell out and I would be disappointed.
With my ticket firmly in hand I went to the concession area and bought a cup of tea – after all, this is a British movie – and went to find my seat in the theater.
I wasn’t disappointed in this movie. It was well made. Every shot had a purpose. Every turn of the head had meaning.
It is most definitely a British film and you’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for an American spy thriller. There are no car chases. Nothing blowing up. A few shots fires, but not many. There is still plenty of violence, but it’s of a very different sort.
Gary Oldman is spectacular as the lead character, Smiley. He is quiet and self-contained, never giving away the thoughts in his head. The rest of the stellar British cast live up to that, giving their characters subtle life.
The cinematography and costuming/set decoration for the film are also outstanding. You were pulled into this underground 1970s world. Britain not yet fully emerged from the post-War era. Still under a layer of fog, so to speak.
The settings were fascinating to me. Around each corner seemed to be a building I recognized. Each shot seemed to contain some very London-specific item. I was homesick just watching.
I would love to say this was the best film of the year, but since in the past year I’ve seen only The Help and this movie, I’m not very qualified to comment.
If you love spy films, see this film for a more subtle approach. If you love thrillers, watch this for a solid story that will leave you guessing (unless you’ve read the book). If you love films set in London, you won’t be disappointed.
I’ll be watching it again, if only to be able to IMDB all the actors as they come on. It seems at times like the entirety of the British acting scene is in the movie somewhere.