2018 Film Challenge: 12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

This isn’t the sort of film I’d have generally perceived to be my kind of film. The only reason I ended up with it on my external hard drive is because my ex downloaded it. It’s got a high Metacritic score, so that was potentially his motivation for wanting to see it. We watched a trailer for it and it looked quite good, so I was happy for it to join our ever-expanding collection of downloaded films. A few times we came close to watching it, but never actually managed it. I then had a bit of a hard-drive spring clean after we split up, where I deleted a few films that I knew I’d probably never watch, but this is one I decided to keep for some reason – I think partly the impressive cast list, partly the high Metacritic score and partly because the trailer made it sound quite exciting. If I’ve learned nothing else from watching this film, it’s that I should ignore the critics and trust my gut instincts. It was very much not a Chantal kind of film. I genuinely don’t understand what anyone has enjoyed about it. A slow film is fine if you’re still getting something from it – if there’s more of a focus on character exploration than on plot and action, I’m all on board with that – however, this film was slow and yet also devoid of characterisation. After 2 hours I didn’t feel like I knew any of the characters at all, plus really didn’t care about them – they mostly seemed like dicks. The only one I felt any vague affection for was Benedict Cumberbatch’s character.

So yes, not for me.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • Awwww, John Hurt
  • Budapest! I’m going back there in July.
  • Are there meant to be subtitles on this bit, or is it intentional that I don’t know what’s going on?
  • The number of famous people in this is pretty amazing
  • Everything looks grey
  • Toby Jones always looks quite suspicious
  • I love that Kathy Burke has a posh accent but still manages to be filthy
  • Finding this a bit dull so far. Hopefully it picks up.
  • Poor owl. What if it was David Bowie?
  • ‘He was your typical Russian’. I think the name Boris covered that, to be honest.
  • Don’t blind her!
  • You can tell that a man wrote this
  • Poor Cumberbatch. He’s the only character I’ve actually taken to in this film. Even with the silly hair.
  • They’re in a Wimpy!
  • There’s intrigue but I don’t really care about it
  • This is surely meant to be reaching a climax, but I’m still bored
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One Response to 2018 Film Challenge: 12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

  1. Crashing Elliptical says:

    This was another one I hadn’t seen before. I’ve never read the book this was based on, or seen the BBC mini-series adaptation. I’ve also never read any of the other books featuring George Smiley, or seen any of the adaptations of those either. A few months ago, when I saw this was on your list, I had a look around to see where it was available, and found the deluxe blu-ray set was available really cheaply on Amazon, so I bought it. Consequently, I therefore have a set containing the blu-ray, the DVD, the soundtrack CD, the book, a film cell, some playing cards, a note book, a set of photographs and a chess piece, all housed in a funky box with a cool hidden drawer. Basically a load of tat I have no need for!

    I actually quite enjoy spy films (I even liked Red Sparrow which has received pretty mediocre reviews), however I agree that this movie moves glacially slowly. It takes ages for anything much to happen, and I’m with you on pretty much all of the characters not being at all likable. It is a very impressive cast, however I can’t now see Toby Jones without thinking of him as Lance in Detectorists (or the bloke in the video for Whippin’ Piccadilly by Gomez), which was a little distracting!

    I think I enjoyed it more than you did, I thought there was the basis for an interesting story there, but overall, I did find it a bit of struggle to get through. I would still rank it higher than Transcendence or The Fountain though.

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