TIFF 2014 Review: The Imitation Game
The complex is made simple, the unknown known, and the grave all the more tense in The Imitation Game, a true story from World War II hidden for 50 years.
Alan Turing was a genius, an indefatigable mathematician, and an internally plagued British citizen and until not too long ago, his plight was unknown. Deftly employing a narrative structure that coherently weaves together three different stories, director Morten Tyldum unearths the life of Turing, a man tasked with decrypting the Nazi’s prized communication device, Enigma.
It’s 1951 as a resigned Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) sits down to tell a confused detective (and the viewer) a tale he knows nothing of. We don’t initially see Turing talking: his voice over begins and he is speaking to everyone – warning that extra careful attention is needed.
While we start in the gray, dreary present (1951), much of the story takes place from 1939, when Turing applies for a top secret ‘radio station’ job. Despite irking his superior (Charles Dance) – Turing does take things quite literally – he’s assigned to work with other geniuses, including Matthew Goode and later Keira Knightley, in trying to crack the code and win the war.
As this brilliantly-told story unfolds, with heightened tension but welcome witty banter and a capricious score, we venture to boarding school in 1927, where Turing’s first noteworthy relationship flourishes. A layered deconstruction full of fascinating revelations and remarkable achievements. The Imitation Game is spellbinding account made the more gripping by great writing and stellar performances.