BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY PREMIERE The Imitation Game★★★★ 9.00-11.10pm C4
Alan Turing was one of the greatest civilian heroes of the Second World War. He deserved a knighthood at the very least but instead was offered the choice between prison and chemical castration (he chose the latter) and was eventually driven to suicide. Simply because he was a homosexual. These things are widely known as the fact that Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was the British cryptographer who cracked the Enigma code and shortened the war by two years. Prior knowledge of how things turned out in no way spoils enjoyment of an excellent biopic that unfolds with the tension of a first-rate thriller. Directed by Morten Tyldum, the film switches between 1952 when Turing was arrested for “gross indecency” and interrogated by a detective (Rory Kinnear), his schooldays at Sherborne and his work on the Enigma code at Bletchley Park.
As Turing, Cumberbatch gives his finest performance yet, creating a vivid portrait of a man known even to his mother as “an odd duck”, one clearly suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. Bletchley’s CO (Charles Dance) dislikes him and even suspects him of being a Russian mole. Happily though, there are others who come to believe in this gifted oddball, among them Matthew Goode as Turing’s assistant and Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, the team’s only woman, who was his most loyal supporter and, for a short time, his fiancée. Theirs may well have been a “lavender” engagement to disguise his sexuality but he did seem genuinely to love her. In 2013, Turing was granted a royal pardon for having been convicted of being gay. And that’s all the official recognition he’s received.
Ryan Reynolds is imprisoned underground in Iraq and begins a desperate battle to escape, in a claustrophobic thriller that stays locked in the box with him. Not for those who don’t like confined spaces, or Ryan Reynolds.
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