Friday, January 2, 2015
GeekRex Quick Take: The Imitation Game
The Buzz: The Imitation Game was the second-most nominated film at the Golden Globes, falling behind Birdman, with nods for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Motion Picture, Best Score, and and Best Original Screenplay. Benedict Cumberbatch is considered a front-runner for taking home an Oscar for his portrayal of Alan Turing, a World War II code breaker who was forced to hide both his participation in the war and his sexuality.
What's Great About the Movie: The hype for Cumberbatch is deserved. Though Cumberbatch has made a career of playing hyper-intelligent, awkward leading men, he still managed to disappear into this role and differentiate it from his catalog of similar performances, which is no easy feat. The sections of the movie highlighting the secrecy around his code breaking project and the chain of command in the war are also very enlightening, as are the facts surrounding his sexuality and the persecution he faced for it. Keira Knightley also brings one of her best performances to date as Turing's fiancee.
What's Not-So-Great About the Movie: The primary fault of the movie comes down to sappiness. For every interesting plot movement, the movie feels saddled with an equal number of attempts to make emotional drumbeats that slow down the story-telling and feel arbitrary. Typically when I come home from a docu-drama, I'm googling all of the facts to figure out which ones were bent for dramatic storytelling. With The Imitation Game, I felt no need - the stuff of truth was riveting, and the stuff of poetic license was pretty clear.
Also, this is a fault with just about every movie, but it was distracting to see a bunch of model-like statues staring at chalkboards for the entire movie. It felt like a Sexy Mathletes photo shoot. This is where the addition of at least one really solid character actor - someone who resembles an average person - would have been of benefit.
Final Verdict: First of all, this is unfortunately another docu-drama in a year that is stuffed to the brim with them, and everything The Imitation Game does, it does less well than the newly-released Selma. If you're interested in some stellar performances and/or need to check every Best Picture contender off of your list, you'll have to see this one, but otherwise I'd recommend waiting for home release. There are other choices that will give you high caliber acting (Whiplash, Nightcrawler) and/or a satisfying biopic (Selma).