At a certain point in this movie, it occurred to me that I was actually waiting to understand it. I kept thinking, any moment now, they’ll explain things, or reveal some key piece of information, and everything will click for me. Then the credits rolled, and I realized that moment would never come. You might be wondering what I had questions about, and the answer is everything. Who the hell are half the people they’re talking about? How does Gary Oldman’s character figure out anything he learns? Why do certain events in the plot occur? Are we in the film’s present day or in a flashback? All unclear.
So, I’m not sure how to review this movie because I’m still attempting to understand it. At first, this made me feel stupid. Then I read this review and this review and realized I’m not alone. I mean, if Roger Ebert was confused, then I don’t feel so bad.
In fact, I almost want to say, “just go read Roger Ebert’s review” because that pretty much sums up what I thought. Everything he wrote about the movie being “superbly atmospheric” is just how I felt. Even when I didn’t know what was going on, the tone always felt right – the dark and dreary palette, the smoky rooms, the quietness of the scenes. That‘s exactly how I’d imagine 1970s British espionage to be.
I also enjoyed the cast. Gary Oldman anchors the film, and is great, in a very quiet and controlled way. Colin Firth has a relatively small part, but I thought he was excellent, particularly toward the end of the film when things started to explode (I can’t say much more without revealing everything, but in the last few scenes in particular, Firth is amazing). And Tom Hardy is fast becoming one of my favorite actors (I want to use the words “magnetic” and “sexy” to describe him, but I’m kinda embarrassed about sounding like a crazy fangirl. Oh, well). Hardy is great here, and gave my favorite performance as possibly the only person who seems aware of the absurdities of life as a spy and wants to escape them.
Next up for me is reading the book upon which this movie is based. I’m thinking (and hoping) this might illuminate more of the story for me. And, then, perhaps, on subsequent rewatchings, I’d enjoy this movie more. But as it is now…I’m just filled with questions.
My Grade: B