Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 2011 ****


John le Carre’s spy novels are something of an institution in the UK, where the television series featuring Alec Guinness as George Smiley are a cultural cornerstone. Thomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In) was a surprising choice to helm this reboot of the Smiley franchise, but he pulls off the dingy British 70’s feel with style. Gary Oldman plays Smiley, with John Hurt as his boss (Control) and Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham and Toby Stephens amongst the agents who may, or may not, be in the pocket of Smiley’s Russian counterpart Karla. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy packs a complex, nuanced narrative into a dense two hours of crosses and double crosses, but there’s a wry humour about Alfredson’s view of the game; using music as diverse as George Formby’s Mr Wu’s a Window Cleaner Now, Dana’s All Kinds of Everything and a triumphant live recording of La Mer by Julio Iglesias, he scores Smiley’s investigation with surprising counterpoints, and creates a text worth repeated viewings, even if the action rarely rises above covert conversations.


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