John le Carre's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" has been beautifully adpated by Tomas Alfredson and his team, in a wonderful combination of excellent narrative, technique and entertainment. Released two weeks ago in mid September Tinker Tailor has already wowed critics and audience alike.
Based on the best selling novel by veteran thriller writer John le Carre, Tinker Tailor tells the tale of a retired MI6 or "Circus" agent tracking down a mole or double agent in the organisation. Called out of retirement, George Smiley, ironically named because of his lack of happiness, is called out of retirement by the minister for SIS Sir Percy. Driven by a relatively low in the grand scheme of things, agent at the circus, Smiley is told that there is a mole: "Right at the top of the cirus." Keeping the agent, played by Benedict Cumberbath and recruting a retired special branch officer to his team, Smiley sets out to find who the mole is, out of the four main men in the circus, nicknamed Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Spy.
Screen writers Peter Straughan and Bridget O'Connor have done an excellent job of adpating le Carre's difficult and complicated story. The narrative is by no means easy, with twists and turns every page, Straughan and O'Connor have mastered the excitement and the atmosphere of the novel extremely well, considering some call it the twentieth century's most un-adapatble novel.
But what really makes the narrative work is of course the cast. A cast to drool over. Gary Oldman, one of the most under-appreciated actors to walk this Earth stars as main man George Smiley. Despite not putting on the best performance in history, Oldman plays the character well, capturing much of what le Carre and Alec Guiness did in the 1979 BBC adaptation. There are already rumours that Oldman will get an Oscar nomination, despite the one month memory of the academy and the annoying but unfortunately sometimes real situation of Oscar nods turning into nothing.
Colin Firth is the other big man on the block who adds to the excellence of Tinker Tailor by doing his best in a pretty Firth-ish role, but still good with elements of hidden homosexuality adapted into his character of Bill Haydon. Tom Hardy, still cooling off from "Inception" last year is also good in his role of Ricki Tarr.
John Hurt and Toby Jones both play their small roles well, but the real show offs are Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch, fresh from warner bros film Sherlock Holmes and BBC tv series Sherlock respectively. Strong again steals the show with his deep emotional eyes and anger and happiness balanced perfectly and wrapped in a brand new person for the same old Strong.
Whilst Cumberbatch, picked up from Sherlock, shines through with his old looking blonde hair as the down the ranks agent within the circus. Although not the most crucial part, every time Cumberbatch walks on screen I found myself sitting forward with anticipation of him improving his last scene into an even better one. Kathy Burkes also makes a brief appearance as well as retired Special Branch agent man, whose name completely slips my mind.
But the true credit must go to director Tomas Alfredson. Best known for his own language Swedish film "Let The Right One In", Alfredson breaks free of the mould of his horror tradition and creates something that brings together all the elements that make a good film and improves them even more. Script, cast, set, atmosphere and more all tick the boxes extra strongly as Tinker Tailor settles into what it is.
Claiming the top spot for a second week in September since release, the film will be bested viewed not on DVD on a Wednesday raining boring afternoon in a couple of months, but now with the atmosphere and feel of the cinema, which contributes to this film much more than others released in the past few years.
Overall Tinker Tailor is a film that made a mistake. The mistake of releasing in September instead of January. For it is a film that would have received a full main course of Oscar nominations including Actor, Supporting, screenplay, director and picture. Perhaps it still will. However the one month memory of the Academy will probably prevent this. Despite that, Tinker Tailor will be remembered for many years as a magnificent film.