The imitation game

The imitation game is a biopic about Second world war British code-breaker (A.K.A cryptanalyst) Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch). Like all biopic the film contain a number of inaccuracies, so this is what happens in the film : In 1952, a detective is called at Turing’s flat to investigate a break in and a burglary. The film then flashbacks to 1939 when Turing works for the Government communications headquarters at Bletchley Park. There he will design and build a machine to decode the German Enigma machine, a nearly impossible to decode machine that looks like a typewriter. He is having great problems with the head office, and writes a letter to Winston Churchill. Churchill has Turing upgraded supervisor of his unit (called Hut 8). His co-workers are reluctant to support him and don’t believe his machine will work. He meets Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), a young woman he hires to work as a code-breaker. They become friends and when he learns that her parents are about to force her to stop working, Turing proposes to marry her. He later tells her they can’t marry because he’s a homosexual. There are flashbacks to high school where Turing has a crush on another boy who later died of tuberculosis. Turing successfully built his machine which enabled the allies to defeat the Nazis and shortened the war by as many as two to four years. The Turing machine is considered to be the grandfather of modern computers. But in 1952, the detective discover that the burglary was caused by one of Turing’s tryst. Homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967. Turing was prosecuted and, in order to avoid prison, agreed to be chemically castrated. What did not help him was the fact that the work he did at Bletchley Park had to remain a secret. The imitation game is being promoted as a “historical thriller”. It is certainly not a thriller, and those expecting one will be disappointed. For me the film does not stray very far away from a Masterpiece theatre episode, as it is made of a series of conversations, mostly inside Hut 8 quarters. And Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) safely does not stray from it either. What is important here is the actors and the spoken words. Style will be frowned upon. But trying to explain cryptanalysis and make it appealing to moviegoers is near impossible. The imitation game‘s qualities can’t be put aside. You have to mention Óscar Faura’s cinematography. But the treatment of Turing’s homosexuality is too tame. The producers have put too much importance on the Joan Clarke’s character. Knightley is good but not memorable, apart from being beautiful and smiling a lot. But why the reluctance to show Alan Turing in any sexual or romantic relationship with a man? Cumberbatch plays Turing with a considerable amount of restraint, keeping the best moment for the dramatic climax. There is a lot of talk about The imitation game‘s chances at the Oscars, but it is too average to win Best Picture. I think the praise it has been receiving is totally unwarranted.

 And the Oscar went to… It won only for its Adapted screenplayThe winner was American screenwriter Graham Moore. Accepting his Oscar he made an impassioned speech (among the many great speeches and moments that evening). When he wad 16, he told the Oscar audience, he attempted to commit suicide because “I felt weird and I felt different and I felt just did not belong. I would like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she is weird or she is different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different and then when it is your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.” The touching speech came after Director Dana Penny, who won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary for Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, used her acceptance speech to talk about her son’s suicide. “I want to dedicate this to my son Even Perry, we lost him to suicide. We should talk about suicide out loud. This is for him,” she said. Graham Moore’s speech was met by a standing ovation from the audience

Rémi-Serge Gratton


The imitation game

Directed by:
Morten Tyldum
Screenplay by:
Graham Moore
Based on Alan Turing: The Enigma
by Andrew Hodges
Benedict Cumberbatch
Keira Knightley
Matthew Goode
Rory Kinnear
Charles Dance
Mark Strong
Alan Leech
113 min.
Rated Parental Guidance

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