The BFI London Film Festival opens its 12 days with a British masterpiece by Norwegian director Morten Tyldum about the Bletchley Park – Enigma cracking mission during the Second World War.
Benedict Cumberbatch (who, just two days after the closing of the festival, had the honor of seeing his statue exhibited in the famous museum Madame Tussaud’s) is a withdrawn, irascible maths genius no one understood in the Alan Turing mid-century biopic.
The movie starts in 1951 Manchester after a suspicious robbery in Turing’s home and, with a series of flashbacks, it’s set in tree main timeframes: the boarding school years, the war years at Bletchley Park (the site is open to the public and it is set as it was during the war, http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/) and the ’50.
Turing was homosexual and he got convicted for gross indecency in 1952. He committed suicide because this persecution and the marvelous work of Cumberbatch is that he suggest all of this pain only in outline (in this the movie is just the opposite of the other biopic we saw at the festival about Pasolini) because in the movie there is not a single scene about an encounter between Turing and another man. He will never forget his first love, the one who introduced him to the art of cryptography during the school years: Christopher (hence the need to call with the same name his Enigma cracking machine) died during the school years; but for Turing he remained forever the most important person in his life. He frustrates his “team mates” with his genius attitude: he lives in his own world, too busy to join the team for lunch, too different to be part of the team or try to listen to them. He’ll try to be “normal” thanks to Joan but his idea of being friendly will be to bring an apple to the head during the day (the effort will still be understood, especially by Hugh).
If for Cumberbatch this is the performance of his career so far and he is odds-on to be nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant interpretation of Alan Turing, also the rest of the main cast is perfect especially Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander (head of the Bletchley cracking team) and Keira Knightley as the only woman in the team, Joan Clarke.
Cumberbatch – Knightley scenes together are the best moments of the movie, their on-screen chemistry is close to perfection.
The Imitation Game (the name is derived from a test that is still in use at the universities of computer sciences, despite being much debated, in whether or not to give an artificial intelligence to the machines; Turing will use it during his interrogation to test his “inquisitor”) follows the classic codes of filmmaking without slipping into cliché and the score by Alexandre Desplat (six-time Academy Awards nominee) is the icing on the cake.
“I’m a woman in a man job, I don’t the luxury of being an arse” (Joan Clarke)
Release date: UK 14 November 2014
USA 21 November 2014
Canada 19 December 2014
Italy 1 January 2015