(Out of 4 stars)
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
From Focus Features
2 hours and 8 minutes
This will be a short review because I have nothing positive to say and there’s no sense in belaboring my perception of this film’s shortcomings.
I don’t give a lot of 4-star ratings because there is usually not that kind of perfection. Nor do I give too many 1-star assessments because few films that I see anyway are that kind of bad. But this turkey deserves just one and honestly I can’t think of any substantial positive things to say.
The word that comes to mind more than any other is dreary. Dreary, dreary, dreary, dreary… that’s one for each of the title characters. The look is gloomy; it has been sepia-toned into a numbing blahness. The suits are brown and gray, the faces are weary, there are no smiles, no humor, no interest. For an espionage-thriller, it is mind-boggingly, heart-stoppingly dull. I hate to say it but it could have used a car chase or an explosion. (May God forgive me for that.)
Additionally most of it takes place indoors or so it seemed to me. Whatinthehell kind of thriller movie is that? (I am only allowing myself to remember this film for as long as it takes to write the review and then poof… gone.) Based on John LeCarre’s novel of the same name, it is about the Cold War in the 1970s and Britain’s intelligence agency looking for a Soviet spy in its very midst.
Despite the fact that I nodded off a time or two (mind you for very short times), I found the screenplay to be muddled and confusing and the only thing that took precedence over my not understanding much of it is that I didn’t care. It was also told in a non-linear fashion (you’ll hear me rag about this in future reviews) which never aids in clarity. Furthermore, scenes were mostly short, too short. Just as I might have settled into what was happening, the scene changed to something else, again only briefly.
And what perfect actors for such an exercise in tedium… Gary Oldman, John Hurt (those two look surprisingly alike… never thought of that before), Colin Firth and Ciarin Hinds, not one of them a model of excitement. Granted, no one was supposed to be James Bond, but come on! The two younger actors, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch (who could use a name change, I dare say) provided what little interest there was.
This film and my favorite one of 2011 (My Week with Marilyn) just garnered the most of Britain’s BAFTA nominations. Go bloody figure. This might have come out in 2011 but it is certainly appropriate to dump its main run in the movie garbage heap that is January.
Maybe I’ll just go make some buttered popcorn, don my jammies and indulge in the Bourne series. Now we’re talking.