The Imitation Game
(M) Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
If you were hooked on The Bletchley Circle TV series, then The Imitation Game will complete the picture of what really happened at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. At the highly secretive Bletchley site, Alan Turing (portrayed brilliantly by Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch) and others work to break the German Enigma Code. Several times Turing’s work is almost ruined, but he also goes over his superiors to none other than Winston Churchill. In his quirky way, Turing asks for more time, because his “machine” has not yet delivered. While The Imitation Game goes into all this behind-the-scenes warfare, also focuses upon Turing who, himself, seems something of an enigma.
In a film dominated by men, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) complements the hard hitting approach taken by Turing’s colleagues, his boss Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) and the MI6 chief, Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong). The others in the team, particularly Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) — an equally brilliant mind, who was also a British Chess Champion — initially find it difficult to get on with Turing.
Clarke’s parents want her home. They fear for her future, not the least being the possibility she may never marry. Turing needs her, so much so that against his own personal sexuality, he proposes to her. Eventually, he does bring himself to declare his homosexuality to her. And that personal information is used by one of his colleagues, a Russian double agent. No doubt this development is what deferred Turing’s eventual arrest, conviction, method of “sentence” and a brilliant mind lost at an early age.
In an echo of the script from a Mission Impossible movie, a verse from the Gospel of Matthew holds the key to his “secret” remaining unreported.
The Imitation Game is well scripted and directed, with brilliant casting that results in standout performances, particularly Cumberbatch (at times, he channels some Baker Street traits). As with most biopics, the use of historical footage (black and white) provides context to the impact the war was having on Britain and the Allies at that time.
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