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First things first: Benedict Cumberbatch alert! He plays Smiley's protegé in the movie. So now he has played the super-detective (in the BBC Sherlock) and the sidekick, with equal aplomb.

I got very confused while watching this movie, even though I've read the John le Carré book it's based on. It has been a long time since I read the book, but I was sitting there thinking "I'm just not cut out for watching twisty movies any more." (It didn't help that I watched it in the theaters with no subtitles, and I've lost what little facility I had with hearing softly spoken dialogue, especially in non-American accents.)

So for me the movie was as if someone had taken the book, cut it up into scenes, put the scenes in a hat, and picked out a few of them at random to film them. They were beautifully, lovingly filmed. So it was actually as if the book were cut into scenes and then haikus were written out of the scenes, and then the haikus were filmed.

Afterward, I saw Roger Ebert's review, and he said, "the screenplay...is not a model of clarity. I confess I was confused some of the time and lost at other times....perhaps...I don't have a mind suitable for espionage." So if he couldn't follow the story either, then I guess I don't have to feel bad. I might re-read the books and then re-watch the movie to see if it makes more sense.

It was nice to see Oldman play someone other than a sociopath. Although I have to say he went as far as he could toward making Smiley sociopath-like.

Guillam (played by Cumberbatch) was gay in the movie. It was a good change from the novel.

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/758418.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
Having read the book recently, I had no problem following it. But if I'd read it a long time ago or never read it, I'd have been utterly lost.
Jan. 31st, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
I read the book about a month before the movie came out. The book was a little oblique about some things, but otherwise fairly clear. I followed the plot of the film, but it seemed like a silly disjointed plot with no clear motives driving it. I just ... no. I'll watch it again sometime to see if I change my mind, but I was disappointed. Esp. since it was so pretty.
Jan. 31st, 2012 05:46 am (UTC)
Picking scenes out of a hat, making haikus out of them, then filming those - that's yeah.
Jan. 31st, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
I didn't have trouble following the film, though I had read the book when I was about 15. My experience was of simultaneously taking in the film and having memories triggered from the book, and the intersection of memory with current experience made it extremely absorbing. I remembered about three-quarters of the way through who the mole was.

After seeing it I started rereading Le Carré. I understand it in a completely different way than I did when I was 14-16.

By the way, if you like Benedict Cumberbatch you might be interested in some of the radio work he's done. I have copies of all three series to date of a very funny radio comedy where he plays an airline pilot (with Roger Allam, who is equally fabulous) and one radio play where he portrays T.S. Eliot with a serviceable American accent. Drop me a line if you'd like to hear them.
Jan. 31st, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
"Who the mole was" was the only thing I remembered from the book. Oh, and the scene in the school.

Different how?

What are the names of the comedy and radio play?
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
Mmm, different how...mostly politically. I had no sense of realpolitik at all at the time. I didn't have much of any notion of why there were two Germanys, which makes The Spy Who Came in from the Cold scary as hell but otherwise incomprehensible. It amazes me in hindsight that I read it in full when I was 14. I also had no idea what kind of purpose spying had, why they were doing it in the first place, so Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy read like a surreal film noir for me. At least I had a preexisting sense that the Soviet Union were enemies for some reason related to Communism, though I didn't know if the reason was founded or bullshit.

I think now that it was founded, even though Republican politicians at the time made it sound like utter bullshit. Having Polish friends of my age and hearing their stories has turned me into a retroactive Cold War hawk.

The radio comedy is Cabin Pressure and the play is Tom and Viv. (excuse me while I pause to hug BBC Radio 4)
Feb. 1st, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
I tried reading TTSS as a teenager but I found it too boring. I only started to enjoy le Carré when I discovered his books on audio, narrated by someone whose voice I love (who read under the names David Case and Frederick Davidson). I'm re-listening to TTSS now.

Thanks for the names of the BBC programmes! Cumberbatch seems to be in just about everything now (Sherlock, TTSS, War Horse, The Hobbit, the Star Trek reboot sequel)...I'm going to ration him. :)
Feb. 3rd, 2012 04:47 am (UTC)
Oh, I shan't ration him. I fully intend to wallow.
Feb. 1st, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
Heh, watching Gary Oldman play Commissioner Gordon in the current Dark Knight movies is a revelation. He really can be low-key and normal! Who knew?

Also, Benedict Cumberbatch, aside from having the coolest British name evar, is sooo awesome as Sherlock Holmes. (But seriously, BBC, THREE EPISODES does NOT equal a SERIES! Sheesh.)

I am not a fan of espionage movies in general, but for Benedict I may make an exception!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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