sun 14/07/2024

DVD: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

DVD: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Cast and director display perfect pitch in acclaimed le Carré adaptation

Gary Oldman as George Smiley, at the centre of 'an all-male world of fading paintwork, whisky and cigarettes'

Gary Oldman's shrewd and skilful portrayal of mole-hunter George Smiley has prompted excitable Oscar gossip, but the biggest success of Tinker Tailor... is its creation of a melancholy sealed world where the common currency is secrets, lies and disillusion.

Swedish director Tomas Alfredson has brought a supernaturally observant eye to jaded 1970s London, where a disgraced Smiley is brought back to the Circus (John le Carré's pet name for MI6) to conduct a clandestine probe for the traitor leaking secrets to Moscow.

It's an all-male world of fading paintwork, whisky and cigarettes, where women are merely clerks or typists (apart from Kathy Burke's eccentric and rather tragic old analyst Connie Sachs), and we don't even get to see the face of Smiley's unfaithful wife Anne. The film's two-hour running time means it can't emulate the slowly tightening menace of the BBC's seven-part series from 1979, but screenwriters Peter Straughan and the now-late Bridget O'Connor have successfully matched le Carré's book to the format without killing the patient. Stellar turns abound, from Mark Strong's desperate and haunted Jim Prideaux and John Hurt's worried Control to Benedict Cumberbatch's camp Peter Guillam and Colin Firth's disdainfully louche Bill Haydon. Toby Jones's Percy Alleline is undone by his own hysterical careerism, a little man trying to stop the roof caving in, while Tom Hardy brings a dash of buccaneering rough to Ricki Tarr.

Oldman remains impassively cerebral as he tracks his quarry, but the Circus's history of incestuous alliances built and betrayed means that there's a gush of conflicting emotions running underneath. Especially affecting is the sense of a broken, impotent Britain trying to remember what power felt like, and now only relevant as a pawn to be clawed by rival superpowers.

The DVD package adds a bundle of featurettes in which cast members deliver soundbites over ominous music, and a Sky Movies Special which does much the same again. However, you also get audio book extracts in which Michael Jayston reads the first chapters of Smiley's People and The Honourable Schoolboy, a pleasing nod to le Carré's writerly achievements.

Watch trailer for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



The Circus's history of alliances built and betrayed means that there's a gush of conflicting emotions running underneath


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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