Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, dir. Tomas Alfredson, scr. Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan, based on the novel by John le Carré, st. Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch

Comparisons abound, predictably, between this film and Alfredson's debut into the mainstream - the sublime Let The Right One In from 2009. Both share the same sombre narrative tone, both have icy, stoic POVs on their protagonists, and both share the same stylistic shooting style - inch-perfect tracking shots and pull backs, a pallidly pastel palate and an introspectively moody score, this time from Alberto Iglesias, whose lonely, echoey trumpet phrases mirror Smiley's increasingly isolated world. The Wire creator David Simon, on writing about the nature of plotting, said that the HBO ad-free format gave him the freedom with which to tell a story - 55 minutes, uninterrupted. How else, he said, are we expected to wholly engage with storytelling? Similarly Dino Jonsater's editing nips and tucks, even with the 2 hour plus running time, excising extraneous content and creating one of the leanest, densest and most economically told stories you're ever likely to see. If it's all a little overwhelming at times, the cast's uniformly excellent performances allow even the most clandestine meetings and shady goings-on to form some kind of cohesive comprehension through their intricately detailed portrayal of character, but even so, when the credits roll you'll be more than happy to crouch down in your aisle and remain in the auditorium for the next immediate screening, and watch it all over again.