Movie Adaptations: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tomas Alfredson’s film version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (adapted from the Cold War spy novel of John le Carré’s of the same name) was released in Finland last Friday. I happened to have a day off, and so went to see the film that has been praised by just about every critic.

I was not impressed.

There is a lot of good to be said, despite what I personally felt about the film. The screenwriter has had a lot of work to do, since the plot in the book is quite complex, and has succeeded in simplifying the plot. Although I enjoy a complicated movie, if this one had been any more so I would have been entirely lost. The actors all do a wonderful job, nothing I can complain about. The settings are – I believe – extremely accurate, very bleak and shabby. The director said in an interview that he starts with the details, and Ciarán Hinds (Roy Bland) actually advised him to fill the ashtrays to the brim. Like in books, details such as these, even if you don’t notice them while watching, make you feel safe in the hands of the makers.

I don’t know whether the experience suffered from mine having read the book before or not. On the other hand, I doubt I would have understood a thing that was going on or known who the characters were, but on the other I now knew who the mole was. Perhaps the solution would have been to read two thirds of the novel and then see the ending?

I would have liked to see it get the Oscar for the script, but some things are just not meant to be. It may not be my new favourite film, but it keeps you with it and does not feel like it lasts the two hours it does.

For an adaptation, decent.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Starring: Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Ciarán Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch

Two Academy Awards nominations (Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay)


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