Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Overshadows

Gary Oldman.

Gary motherfucking Oldman.

I despise the Oscars. I hate what they represent, I hate their process, I hate how they poison Hollywood, I hate how the drive independent film to other awards and I (most of all) hate how they continue to be driven by politics. Nolan did not get nominated for best director on Inception, Crash won Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain and Gary Oldman has never been nominated. Gary. Motherfucking. Oldman. One of my favourite actors of all time, hell, probably one of the most versatile and incredible actors (FACT) of our time. Never been nominated.

But, now, I cry to the Oscars. I plea to them. Oldman is more deserving than any other actor, after seeing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for another time I can truly say that this guy needs more than a pat on the back. He needs to be immortalized. This charade of an awards show could do a little good in my books. This year, Transformers has more nominations than Drive. This year, Fassbender doesn’t appear at all. This year, so many snubs and scandals have emerged (such as Murphy dropping the hosting ball). You know what would redeem all of that, for me? A statue in Oldman’s hand. Give the old man the gold.

Because he’s the hero that acting deserves, but not the one that it needs right now. So, we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.

I do gush over Oldman here now more than ever because Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is practically his greatest film. It’s a thrillride of a Cold War espionage drama mixture, pulpy and rich in all that delicious lingo of the most expensive war in history. A film that truly wraps itself around its mood and atmosphere and squeezes the life out of it. Rooms feel stuffy, characters feel torn and tense as they grip their fingers into their palms and the whole thing escalates into a true test of patience, thought and play. In the end, the film completes its journey to become one of the finest Cold War political thrillers I’ve ever come across.

And, while I gush, I already have my complaints sitting besides me. For no film is perfect, well… maybe one (we might get to that in a bit actually) and it is so that an improvement can be made in any place. All films carry somewhere to critique. Here, in Tailor… or Tinker? See it’s weird trying to find a shortened way to refer to the film… The Dark Knight becomes Dark Knight, Pulp Fiction becomes Pulp, The King of Kong becomes Kong. With Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy… you could use any of those couldn’t you? I’m not sure which one to use. Tailor just sounds best.

Tailor suffers from a problem that another Oldman film – The Dark Knight – had right under its skin. While never bubbling to the surface or becoming a full on critique, it was there. A definite element of overshadowing. The film was revolved, lightly, around a one man show. Heath Ledger’s performance being one of the spellbounding and scariest things to ever appear on the big screen. I think the film, and his performance too, is ridiculously overrated but it’s still The Dark Knight. That critique, however, throws itself forward into Tailor too.

It’s not Oldman who overshadows everyone, he is definitely ‘the golden boy’ though, but just a cauldron of folk who seem to paste their acting weight against the screenplay itself. Loveable Sherlock, Mr Cumberbatch plays a supporting role matched perfectly by Tom Hardy. There are so many British greats here it’s hard to keep count of them, and the film becomes embroiled in trying to balance all these elements at once. It becomes a juggling act as the jargon (“The Circus” “babysitter”) starts to blend into conversations too quickly and, suddenly, the writing pales in comparison to its own delivery.

The original novel series itself is… pretty damn good I have to say. The screenplay’s dependence of it, still simplifying it though, all builds towards one conclusion; inconsistency. The film has its actors completely overshadow their own lines. The cinematography is to die for but, the true meat and bones of this film is its story. What happens, however, is the story does not fit in nicely along with everything else. The actors just… too good. There could have been a lot more work done to the screenplay, pacing issues show up too and there’s the odd moment where you just don’t know what’s going on.

Maybe I’m too stupid?

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy bar all of this is still one my favourite films of the last year or so. Gary Oldman, however, deserves that Oscar. It’s been a long time coming.

One thought on “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Overshadows

  1. TTSS was trash! As a standalone picture, it might have been all right, but to one who’s read the books and seen the Guinness Smiley, the new movie was junk. It butchered the story line, jumped here and there for God knows what reason, slaughtered the characters [Smiley swimming? Peter Guillam as gay? Connie Sachs as a potty-mouth?] There seems to be a Hollywood requisite these days to have a certain number of ‘fucks’ in any movie… a quota of sorts. None of the uses in TTSS furthered the movie one iota. And on and on and on… I cannot believe LeCarre signed off on this tripe, let alone participated in its production.

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