A Review: The Imitation Game

Written By: Maddy C

Director: Mortem Tyldum

Screenplay: Graham Moore

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Alex Lawther, Mark Strong and Charles Dance.

The Verdict: 4/5

“During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine.” – The Weinstein Company

One of the many films that made its way into theatres as part of Hollywood’s holiday indulgence of releases was “The Imitation Game”. Based on the incredible and tenacious true story of Alan Turing’s achievements and inequalities as a homosexual, the cast of “The Imitation Game” brings attention to a lost and under appreciated genius. Already, this film has wracked up 5 Golden Globe nominations and 8 Oscar nominations.

The team. (From left to right) Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict Cumberbatch and Allen Leech.
The team. (From left to right) Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict Cumberbatch and Allen Leech.

The brutally honest, socially awkward mathematician worked along four other brilliant minds: Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard). What was perceived to be a radio factory situated at Bletchley Park was in fact the focal point of a top-secret operation. This team of British scholars and Turing’s machine “The Bomb” broke this so-called “unbreakable” German code. Historians say that their achievements caused WWII to end two years early as well as saving an estimated 14 million lives. This star-studded cast had very good chemistry on scene and made Turing’s story oddly relatable.

Alan Turing vividly comes to life on-screen by the works of Benedict Cumberbatch. The British actor plays him with such determination, authenticity and fragility. From the way he speaks to the way he interacts with the other characters, his embodiment of Turing was what made this already powerful story so moving. In several interviews with the actor, he kept on saying how this father of modern computing should be on the covers of history and science books. His attention to detail in this role paid off. Cumberbatch has been nominated for Best Actor in a Drama at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, BAFTA’s and many others. Also, he was recently nominated for an Oscar in that category.

Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) and his machine "The Bomb".
Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) and his machine “The Bomb”.

The lovely and talented Keira Knightley executed another notable performance, this time playing Joan Clarke, the sole female representative in this group of code breakers. She was a very politically astute woman along with positivity and kindness. Being set in the 1940’s it was very rare for a woman like Joan to be in the center of something so important. Not only did Graham Moore write a brilliant screenplay but he also wrote Knightley’s character strongly and poignantly. Supporting actors, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard all added a complexity and realistic take on what it was like to work with Alan Turing. It’s quite hard to make a biopic and not have some controversy surrounding the historical accuracy of the film. This movie along with Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma, have been at the center of debate about the amount of artistic license used. Considering that most of the evidence of what went on at Bletchley Park was destroyed, it made sense for the filmmakers to dramatize some things.

While watching this film in the theatre, I couldn’t believe that this story was based on someone’s actual life experiences. It seemed almost a bit unreal that this man had gone through so many dramatic events. Turing’s legacy is so unique yet the way he was treated by the British Government after he was charged for gross indecency was appalling. Sadly, these actions were what caused this war hero and gay icon to take his own life in 1954. I’m glad that this film was made because it showcased this wonderful man and what he contributed to the world.