Friday, 30 September 2011

232: Review - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
24th September 2011. Location: Cinema

Hello, my name's Yen and I'm one of the only people in the world who didn't like this film.


I'll keep this short and sweet. I didn't feel the narrative was laid out plainly enough. In all honesty, I didn't feel the narrative was laid out at all, other than "there's a mole at the top of the circus" (about six fucking times), and "oh, it's Colin Firth". In between those, is two hours of moody atmosphere shots with very little useful dialogue or anything actually happening.

• Interior, a darkened office, day. Smiley sits with one of the other central characters who somehow hasn't been introduced properly. Nothing is said for about 45 seconds until one of them quietly pipes up "...things are not in order"
Cut to:
• Exterior, a park, dusk. Smiley looks into the middle distance saying nothing for 60 seconds.
Cut to:
• Interior, Smiley's office, night. Although probably not the night after the dusk we just saw. You can't really tell, to be honest. Smiley looks at four chess pieces with faces sellotaped onto them. The camera closes on his concerned face. He says nothing.
Cut to...

Fucking etcetera. For two hours. It does have some good sequences; the flashback scene at the beginning with Mark Strong as the agent in Bulgaria, and the tale told in flashbacks by Tom Hardy. But other than that, flashback sequences are used, unannounced, where the characters and decor look exactly the fucking same as in the 'present' day. Then you get to a point where Mark Strong's scenes weren't flashbacks, but when you realise this you think back over those scenes and realise they were so largely inconsequential that it doesn't really matter when they were set.

Here's the deal: I'm not a rocket scientist. I know this. But I also know I'm not completely thick, and I know enough about narrative structure to sit through most of this film not having a fucking clue what's going on at any given moment.

Yet, evidently I'm the only person who feels like this.

I was going to give it a second watch. Benefit of the doubt, y'know?
Then after some thought, I figured fuck it. The way I see it, you've got three minutes to 'sell' a film to me with your trailer. If you can do that, I'm in. If I'm not convinced by the trailer, then why should I spend time and money watching something that doesn't seem to appeal to me? Oh, it could be a great film, but if the person who's cut the trailer's done a bad job, that's not my problem.

Then I took it a step further. The trailer for TTSS did sell it to me. It's the film itself that didn't. And quite honestly, if you can't convince me in two hours that I should like your film, then it's certainly not going to get another screening with me in the room.

On the plus side: Everything else is pretty excellent. The sets, costumes, casting, acting, delivery, photography; all exquisite. It just feels to me like it was edited by someone who hadn't read the story. Way too many aspects seemed like they probably meant more in the book or TV series, and were only in this to make up the numbers.

And y'know, if you're adapting a massive book which was a 7-hour TV series down into 2 hours, and a lot of stuff doesn't fit? Then you should probably be asking yourself if you should even be doing it at all.

Best bit: Colin Firth gets shot in the face. That will never get old.

I want to mark it more highly just because of the way it looks, but I was too disappointed with it to do that.

* Although when I say "spoilers", I mean arguably more plot-revelation than the fucking film.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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