Released in Spain last Friday, 23 December 2011, Begoña and I went, yesterday evening, to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a British film based on the 1974 novel by John Le Carré, directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In), from a screenplay written by Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds.
In 1973 Control (John Hurt), Head of the British Secret Service known as Circus, personally sends agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to a mission in Hungary. The operation goes awry, Jim is shot and he may even have died. Control and his deputy Smiley (Gary Oldman) are forced to retirement. Percy Alleline (Toby Jones) becomes the new head of the Circus, assisted by Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik).
Control dies, and Smiley, who has separated recently from his wife Ann, is rehired by the government in secret on fears that a double agent working for the Soviets, a mole, could have reached a high responsibility post in the Circus. Smiley will count with the help of a young agent Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), and will have to scrutinise the past and present activities of the Circus while facing his own inner ghosts, including Karla, the Soviet spymaster.
Although I read the book and saw the BBC series featuring Alec Guinness as George Smiley, I hardly remembered it, in a sense it was a new to me film. And I have to admit that I enjoyed it thoroughly. A superb film by all accounts.
The atmosphere and pace of the film are very well-made and the actors fit very well in their roles. The script is excellent, capable of condensing in just over two hours a dense novel and a television series that lasts over five hours. Last but not least the film narrative is close to perfection.
My rating: 9 out of 10.
Now I’m looking forward to reading the book, first, and watching, next, the BBC series.