Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Atune heard over the phone,a buzzing fly,a moving curtain,a face that lingers for just a while at the window.

Written by Shalini Langer | Published: January 6, 2012 5:19 pm

Army of shadows

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Cast: Gary Oldman,Colin Firth,Tom Hardy,John Hurt,Mark Strong,Ciaran Hinds

Rating: ****

Atune heard over the phone,a buzzing fly,a moving curtain,a face that lingers for just a while at the window. If it’s atmosphere you want,it’s atmosphere you get in this adapation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,one of John le Carre’s greatest works.

It marked the return of George Smiley,the nondescript but dependable British intelligence officer. Once one of the highest ranking in the service or the ‘Circus’,and considered the chief or ‘Control’s’ own man,he has been unceremoniously removed since a mysterious operation went bust in Czechoslovakia.

Now suddenly a rumour of a mole in the Circus has got stronger,with various events that have happened at the service tying up with these suspicions. Smiley,now an outsider,is considered the best person to investigate the same.

Like Le Carre’s other novels,Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is less about spying and more about espionage,or the world in which it exists. It elaborates in great detail and at great length the various levels of its operatives,the “scalp hunters”,the “limelighters”,the “agents”,the moles and the various shades of them,the “stock” and the “trade”.

The guy who manages this best is Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr. While the film washes away most of his angularities,it also lends him a tenderness that logically makes him the hinge on which a crucial door rests. Firth is almost too logical a choice for Bill Haydon and doesn’t get much to do; Toby Jones is perhaps too lazy a choice to play the eager-to-excel but inept Percy Alleline. Mark Strong,however,disappoints as the gentle-hearted but angry Jim Prideaux.

Oldman as Smiley swings in his performance. It isn’t easy telling the story from Smiley’s point of view,especially when he spends most of that time keeping an eye on others. However,the film manages to distill the loneliness of such an existence — whether it is in returning to an empty house or yearning for old companionships. l

shalini.langer@expressindia.com

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