Being able to convey a biopic accurately while preserving the memory of a closeted genius who deserved much more respect than he received is truly a feat that should be seen. Alan Turing’s story in The Imitation Game is told in a narrative that takes you back to when it all began – throwing pieces of Alan’s life together, leading to an ending that leaves you surprised and shocked.
The story goes back to the early 1940s during World War II. Mathematicians and codebreakers were being hired to secretly break the unbreakable Nazi code – German messages encrypted on an Enigma machine that had over 159 million, million, million settings. Breaking this code would help them win the war.
In walks the hopelessly awkward but incredibly genius mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), who believes he can break the code. His confidence is perceived as arrogance by his peers. Some of the other codebreakers who join the mission include Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard), John Cairncross (Downtown Abbey‘s Allen Leech) and Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), who is a genius but struggles with society’s belief that a woman cannot be as intelligent as a man.
Alan prefers working alone but is forced to work with a team. Due to his condescending attitude, he is unable to get along with the guys, but enjoys spending time with Joan. When he can’t figure out how Joan is so easily liked, she answers, “I’m a woman in a man’s job. I don’t have the luxury of being an ass.” Well put, Miss Clarke, and just like that, she also wins over the audience.
Together, the team tries everything they can to decode Enigma. But along the way, secrets are revealed as Alan confides in an acquaintance. His homosexuality is revealed and, at that time, Britain criminalized homosexuality. It’s just one of the many struggles Alan deals with.
This is a brilliant script from director Morten Tyldum, making his English language film debut. He deserves due credit for creating a film that unapologetically tells the untold story of a war hero, packed with emotion and accuracy. While Alan may have been an odd character to piece together, he probably is the reason we are sitting in front of a computer today.
If you weren’t singing Cumberbatch praises before, you will be now. Benedict leaves behind his Sherlock skin and pieces together a character who, despite being arrogant, through glimpses of his past we are able to sympathize with him. I can’t imagine another actor carrying out the role of Alan Turing with such flare and authenticity. For her part, Keira Knightley perfectly complemented Turing’s awkwardness with her wit and charm.
Overall, the film was an entertaining film, leaving behind the usual biopic tone. The well-paced plot and brilliant performances refined this film, making it a must-see.
Special features include Feature commentary with director Morten Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore, The Making of Imitation Game, Deleted scenes and Q&A with cast and crew (Blu-ray exclusive). Click here to watch the trailer. ~Marriska Fernandes