This is the story of the breaking of the German Enigma code, thus saving millions of lives and shortening the WWII (by 2 years if the end credits are to be believed).
Opening with perhaps the most irritating narration ever, this movie promised to be a great disappointment to me. I was about to get up and leave when we had glimpses of Turing (Cumberbatch) as a tormented young boy sent away to boarding school and the devastating effects this experience had on this sensitive young man. An odd duck as he recalls his mother calling him.
Turing was also gay in a time when homosexuality was illegal and his ‘secret’ weighed heavily on his psyche. He was a highly strung, awkward genius of a child who may have been (if the movie’s depiction is accurate) diagnosed on the Autism spectrum by today’s standards.
Employed by the government to crack the code, he helps select a team to assist him, including Joan Clarke (Knightley), Hugh Alexander (Goode), John Cairncross (Leech) and Jack Good (Northcote). He is quick to alienate the entire team until Joan makes a breakthrough with him. This relationship will prove to be an important one for both.
Turing wants to build his code cracking machine, much to the amusement of the others who prefer to slog away unsuccessfully with old-fashioned code breaking mathematics.
As always seem to be the case, it is a flippant comment that leads to the ultimate breakthrough for the team. It really is quite clever, to see how these people’s minds worked. I found that fascinating.
Of course this movie was superbly acted with not a nuanced quirk or a stiff upper lip ignored. As noted, I initially found Cumberbatch infuriating but once Knightley’s Joan got hold of him and dragged him into the world of nice social interactions, he calmed down and relaxed within himself.
The story of the code was fascinating. I was familiar with the story, of course, but never gave much thought to just how vital it was to crack the code. The personal stories behind this team, most particularly Turing and Clarke was poignant and moving. I am not a great fan of Knightley but she was really lovely in this role. As Turing’s equal in all ways, she brought a warmth to her character and coaxed out the very best in Turing.
Cumberbatch was wonderful and will no doubt be pleased with current and future accolades he will receive for this role. An Oscar nod is only a matter of waiting for the announcement. But just as Turing’s mother found him an odd duck, so I feel the same about Cumberbatch. There is just something about him ….
This is a must see for history and war buffs and anyone who just loves a good story.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Love Flick xx
Director : Morten Tyldum
Starring : Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Mark Strong, James Northcote, Charles Dance
Running Time : 144 minutes
Release Date : 26 December 2014