Norwegian director Morten Tyldum has shot a tense psychological drama based on a screenplay written by Graham Moore. As it is a biographical film, it is completely understandable that the synopsis relies heavily on Andrew Hodges’ book Alan Turing: The Enigma. It is normal that there were sporadic adjustments of some facts or a slightly different presentation of important events that influenced the tragic fate of an unusual person, a man who did so much for his country and in general for the whole human race.
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the central protagonist of the plot, which was timed during the Second World War, as well as immediately after the victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany. The real plot starts from the moment when Turing reports a burglary in the apartment, which results in the arrival of the police. Detective Robert Knock (Rory Kinnear) soon breathes behind his neck and wants to dig up something from his past. Traces of the past have been erased, and they date back to the beginning of the bombing of Great Britain by the enraged Hitler’s soldiers.
Knowing him as an expert in numbers and calculations, Turing is hired by the secret intelligence service to join a selected team of brilliant minds with the task of working on deciphering the codes of the German cryptographic machine Enigma. Through painstaking efforts to achieve somewhat tangible results, we get to know the character of a genius mathematician and cryptographer, a scientist who laid the foundations of modern informatics.
Making an authentic reconstruction of true events in a likable way, to make it watchable and as provocative as possible, is really not an easy task. Therefore, filmmakers often resort to more painless solutions, opting for a commercial option, and Tyldum did something like that, giving us a refined historical-biographical drama and a somewhat mystically stylized story with inserted thriller ingredients. In a pretentious attempt to show us how complex a person Alan Turing was, an almost misunderstood genius and a prostitute for his sexual orientation at a time when it was legally punishable, the author occasionally shifts the work out of focus (Turing with a team on a mission , and the number of human victims is constantly growing).
Through a few sequences, he returns to the past, to the days when Alan, as a boy, a grown schoolboy, showed that he is different from other peers. The nature of his homosexuality is only slightly emphasized, without any intention of providing a more serious explanation, at least through a couple of purposefully (not to say more explicitly) done scenes. It is well known that the character is formed around that age, which undoubtedly shows that the opportunity to get to the heart of the problem was missed, which will later have practically disastrous implications for the survival of the war veteran.
It will be that it did not correspond to such a composed scripting platform. Much more attention was paid to his intellect and behavior, which is more characteristic of a weirdo, than to a man who has been asked for so much and since he was expected to turn the fortunes of war. The intention to give the audience a chance to penetrate the character of today’s legendary and posthumously recognized mathematician (and homosexual), it could be said that the film crew mostly succeeded. The greatest merits belong to the suggestive performance of the main character, on which, in essence, the entire action rests.
Benedict Cumberbatch did inspire an intriguing character, a tragic individual who simply could not be understood and accepted in the legally rigid society of Puritan Britain. The rest of the ensemble was reduced to mere support for the lead soloist, so no one stood out. Keira Knightley (Keira Knightley) just routinely did the job, so it’s no wonder she turned out to be inferior in acting in joint shots with Cumberbatch. Praise, however, goes to two experienced film wolves. Charles Dance managed to subtly portray the character of Commander Deniston, an old-fashioned soldier, and Mark Strong was at the height of the task, interpreting the wise intelligence chief Stuart Menzies.
In order to convey the greatest authenticity of historical events, locations throughout England were chosen. In addition to a few places in London, it was filmed in the exteriors of Bletchley Park, in the idyllic village of Bletchley, where war heroes well-hidden from German bombers were housed. Aimed at each other with a somewhat clichéd portrayal of interpersonal relationships, they worked together to invest enormous mental effort, reversed the course of the war, solving what at first seemed like an unsolvable enigma.
Appropriate musical support contributed to achieving a tense atmosphere from which the tragedy is felt, the inner dissatisfaction of a man when the homeland was so quickly forgotten and lightly rejected. Skillful editing and correct photography also deserve a high rating, because they afforded us a series of excellent shots. It is especially worth emphasizing the well-expressed facial expression of the greatest genius among them.
In general, this is a solid drama, there are a lot of visible trump cards, so he is embarking on the Oscar race with a lot of optimism (there are as many as 8 nominations). If we have in mind the competition, then it is hard to believe that it can win the most prestigious award for the best film, but a couple of consolation awards in other categories I am sure would satisfy the appetites of British filmmakers from Black Bear Pictures.
What is unequivocal is the fact that the biographical drama raised a lot of media dust, so I am free to state it with full right. After all, take a look, then judge for yourself.