One of the burdens about living in Scandinavia is, time and time again, there’s a long wait before I get a chance to see any new releases distributed in the UK or elsewhere. A hindrance in many ways, it undoubtedly has made me appreciate the film industry more, making a regular visit to the cinema more than just a way of dwindling away the drab, rainy days, particularly when the film in question is the equally drab and rainy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Taken from the quintessentially British spy novel from John le Carré, the latest film from Swedish’ director Tomas Alfredsson has generated a great deal of buzz, with critics and audiences appraisal alike. Semi-retired espionage veteran George Smiley is set on a final mission to uncover the identity of an MI6 agent doubling as a soviet mole.
The overtly masculine cast list for TTSS is nothing short of outstanding, showcasing some of the finest home-grown talent the UK has to offer. Most impressive is Tom Hardy who for the first time since Bronson illustrates just how talented an actor he can be when given more testing material to work from.
But what about Gal? With so much critical attention given to Oldman’s performance, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with his take on Smiley. Undoubtedly developing character idiosyncrasies which John le Carre is sure to be proud of, Oldman’s performance left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Even with a diverse thirty year career, to me, he is still synonymous for big, ballsy performances like the boisterous Sid Vicious and a particularly camp Dracula.
Like the complex, whodunnit story, the script, costume and set design have been meticulously crafted. So much so that, even with a relatively decent twist ending, TTSS feels like a very good, conventional heritage piece of the espionage cannon. This is not necessarily a bad thing, rather a case in point of a respectful adaptation of such revered literary work. Although it might not be ground-breaking, exciting or original, just like a cup of standard breakfast tea, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is pallid, familiar and satisfying. Hold the sugar.