Customer Review

214 of 263 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It either clicks or it doesn't, 8 Dec 2011
This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Double Play (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
Must admit, I'm quite surprised that even the mainstream critics dared to rate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so highly. Not because it isn't brilliant, which it is, but because critics have to consider their readership and, well... I would say that if you are finding the film dull or uninvolving then it's just not your cup of tea, which is fine. In fairness it is very literary, the plot can be hard to keep up with and the dialogue is rather jargonistic (but really shouldn't be too difficult to decipher).
At the other end of the scale are the narrow-minded purists with their nostalgic view of the original BBC TV series, which was excellent for it's day but really doesn't hold up very well at all. I can remember when TV didn't pander to such short attention spans, but watching it on DVD I found the Alec Guinness version quite flat, and not in the moody, atmospheric way that it should be. It's okay to prefer the series, but that shouldn't come with an obligation to trash the film.
Tinker Tailor... gives us a small history lesson. This world of espionage is far removed from the bare-faced escapist fun of 007. The true face of the cold war in the 60's & 70's was this, a very private game played by lonely, vain, repressed old Oxbridge throwbacks in stuffy offices. Field agents were merely pawns to be used and abused. British Intelligence was under-funded, ineffective and disliked by the CIA. Gary Oldman's cool, understated incarnation of George Smiley views his former employer for what it has become- rejected, out-of-touch, eager to get back into the game and on the brink of it's own downfall. I hadn't read the novel beforehand but had no trouble following the plot or being absorbed by the story. All of the performances are great and the direction beautiful. What you get is a dark, dense, intelligent, sophisticated film. You may feel a little lost at times, but that's okay. All the pieces fit together in the end, and pretty much every scene turns out to have its own significance.
My only niggle would be a moment where we get to spend what seems like ten minutes watching Tom Hardy's character kissing his girlfriend. It felt like an intermission, but maybe that's just me. Apart from that, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the best film I've seen for years. At least LeCarre isn't as precious about his material as some of his fans. He loved it too.
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Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 27 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Feb 2012 14:39:58 GMT
Bruce says:
I expected it to be hard to understand - but in fact it felt too simplistic - there was just a lot of useless shots of people staring meaningfully - and not enough plot.

Oldman's acting was terrible - it was like he was doing a bad impersonation of Alec Guiness!

Also - everything was not brown in the 70s - I was there and it never looked this bad!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Feb 2012 22:56:03 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Feb 2012 22:56:51 GMT
Justaprofile says:
I completely agree with you Bruce.

I have no problem with slow films where nothing much happens. Though they at least have to have some substance and depth. There is nothing in this film with any amount of that!

Gary Oldman was like a stale loaf of bread. You saw him swim in a lake for a split second and that is meant to be his hobbies and personal interests. That is not the way to build a character!

An awful film that cheapens the very thought of good film making.

Posted on 10 Feb 2012 16:46:41 GMT
Yup - it's known as plot - as opposed to masses of computer-generated "daredevil" graphics which we have seen a million times before. Now that IS boring. But anyway, I shall stick to the series, which does the story far more justice. Buy the original - you know it makes sense.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Feb 2012 17:05:24 GMT
Bruce says:
But that was my point - it was very thin on plot and very simplistic - 4 choices of "Mole" and Smiley finds who it was - end of story!

Whereas the TV series was really complex and involved - this was Spying for Dummies with poor acting and brown as default colour!

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Feb 2012 19:35:14 GMT
Justaprofile says:
That was my point as well. The plot is basically none existent. Absolutely no depth to the story.

I will buy the original. Though this is a shambles of an excuse. Like someone else has said. It is just liked because it is something different. It certainly is nothing special.

So many more films that are better than this. Watch The Lives Of Others for something A LOT better than this but similar.

Posted on 14 Feb 2012 00:28:54 GMT
'Sophisticated' and not for your 'average Joe-Public'. Mmmm. Indeed. It's also dull as dishwater and somewhat crap. Comparing it to The Shawshank Redemption is a bit hopeful. It's a mess. Too much plot compressed into too little time. Characters that are not fleshed out. Quite quickly I began to drop off, literally, which is a first for me in a cinema. If you have seen the TV series, or read the book, then you may be redeemed (you may have imagined a good film). Alternatively the obvious analysis is that of pretension.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Feb 2012 18:39:04 GMT
Not at all. I was just trying to point out that lot of criticism aimed at Tinker Tailor... seems to be based on certain expectations (eg. an action movie), in the same way that many popcorn-munchers went to see Watchmen and didn't find anything strange about Nixon still being president in 1985 or America's resounding victory in Vietnam, thus missing the whole point of the film. It doesn't matter, we don't all know who Pat Buchanan was. Some people just don't know much about history. Anyway, Tinker Tailor... is everything it set out to be, so I can't fault it. There's no superiority in loving it, or hating it. I just wouldn't want to put people off it by slating the film. Better to encourage them make up their own minds.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Feb 2012 23:23:59 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Feb 2012 23:32:20 GMT
Justaprofile says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2012 09:50:44 GMT
Kmart999 says:
"Anyway, Tinker Tailor... is everything it set out to be, so I can't fault it"

If so - why is it so much worse than both the book and the TV series?
I think people should be encouraged to seek these out, rather than some trendy excuse for character actors to stare blanky at the screen.

I still don't see how people can take Gary Oldman's performance seriously - it can only be because they don't know who Alec Guiness is and don't realise that Oldman is just attempting an impression/homage, but failing...badly!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2012 18:59:11 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Feb 2012 19:00:19 GMT
It's unfair to compare the film to the series because they are two very different things, but by modern standards the series just does not hold up. Oldman deliberately avoided watching the series again so as to avoid any unintentional imitation, but he is playing the same character, and he's the second person to have a stab at it, so of course there's bound to be comparisons. Personally I prefer Oldman's portrayal myself, as Guinness was a little more overstated and theatrical, but I guess that's just a matter of taste. However, comparing a film to a book is pure lunacy, as they are two completely different things, both wonderful in their own way. Not that it matters, but I've also noticed that none of the films detractors seem able to agree on whether the film had too little plot or too much plot crammed in.

By the way... When I talk about Joe Public, I'm thinking of Jade Goody, The X-Factor and TOWIE. The appeal of these things I'll never understand.
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