By Mark Saldana
Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)
Based on the true story of Alan Turing and his top secret work for the British government during World War II, this extraordinary film not only gives audiences insight into the brilliant mind of Turing, but also reveals his tormented personal life. Adapted from Andrew Hodges’ book, Alan Turing: The Enigma, writer Graham Moore and director Morten Tyldum do exceptional work in telling this fascinating story of Turing, and Benedict Cumberbatch delivers what I consider the best performance by an actor this year. The film itself has also made my list of top ten movies of the year.
British mathematician, logician, and cryptoanalist Alan Turing gets hired by the British Government Code and Cypher School during World War II. He and a team of intelligent code breakers are tasked with the job of decrypting messages and signals sent within the German army. Rather than focus on decrypting the messages himself, Turing develops a machine which can do most of the work for the team. Despite his valuable contributions to the Allies during World War II, Turing’s personal life and the prejudice he faces ends up destroying his career.
Director Tyldum and writer Moore do an outstanding job recreating this compelling and heartbreaking story for cinema. The film works wonderfully as a drama, biopic, and thriller. Tyldum and Moore flash back and forth during Turing’s life covering his rough childhood as an intelligent, but awkward child, his struggles and triumphs working for the British government during the war and the problems of his latter years that not only derailed his career, but took a toll on his brilliant mind. The whole experience is touching, beautiful, and one that has stayed with me ever since I saw it.
The movie features some lovely cinematography by Oscar Faura, an outstanding score by Alexandre Desplat and superb performances by Cumberbatch and his supporting cast. The film also stars Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, a cryptoanalyst working on the team and Turing’s closest friend and confidant. She and Cumberbatch share a lovely chemistry in the movie, therefore, credibly portraying the deeply intimate friendship between the two. The movie also features actors Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leach, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, and Mark Strong who all deliver solid work.
In a day and age when prejudice still exists and the freedom to live one’s personal life as he or she chooses is still in jeopardy, this film is very resonant. People have come a long way since the 1940s and 50s, but we still have a long way to go in eliminating prejudice and discrimination against all people. Turing deserves recognition for his work in helping end World War II and the impact his machine would have for computer technology in the future. The Imitation Game serves as the necessary tribute he has earned.