An Imitation Game Hard to Imagine

While I sit here, typing this review on my laptop, I need to step back for a minute and consider the carefully layered sequence of events which led to my machine’s existence.

Bute maybe not step too far backl because typing getis diffcultt…

As it turns out, war brings two things in great measure: death and progress. On the one hand, a brilliant mathematician whom historians believe brought a significantly early end to WWII was scorned by the public and convicted for being different. On the other, today there exists a single machine that can do the job of every piece of ‘90s technology I owned and it fits in my pocket. I never imagined that the reason Google is here to answer all my questions is because one man, seventy years ago, was smart enough, anti-social enough, and pressured by just the right circumstances to inspire the creation of this technological present we all depend on.

As it turns out, the greatest hill for the Allies to conquer during WWII was the Enigma machine. This coding device made it impossible to decipher Nazi radio communications, but even more challenging was the fact that the key to the code was reset every day at midnight. Thus, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team have roughly eighteen hours each day between the first message and the change in key to figure out the intercepted messages and warn the Allied forces. While the team puts their heads to paper trying to crack the code, Alan puts his head to electric wiring (not literally) and decides to build a machine that will read the code, calculate the key, and spit out the answer. In essence, he designs the first computer. The Imitation Game is a fight against Hitler, time, and secrets.

The biggest secret of all, only fractionally more dangerous than Soviet spies, double agents, and the impending attacks by German U-boats, is Alan’s homosexuality. In mid-20th century England it was illegal to be gay, punishable by either imprisonment or chemical castration. Alan’s job and life depend on keeping this secret, however lonely the resulting life may be. It is therefore fortunate that the lovely Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), a brilliant, independent woman, comes along and insists on being his friend. Joan could be a valued asset to Alan’s team if only she were allowed to work with them in broad daylight. As such, being a woman and all, Joan must give the impression that she’s working with the secretaries and the call operators rather than the mathematicians. She and Alan form a tight relationship built on their love of problems and the safety each one can offer the other.

However, because Alan is lonely, focused, and demonstrates symptoms of Asperger’s, his colleagues are less than eager to be friendly. It takes a woman’s touch and a few shiny apples before the whole room is saying, “O Captain! My Captain!” There is an excellent dynamic between these abnormally smart characters, from the unintentionally cruel Alan, to the cheery John (Allen Leech), and handsome Hugh (Matthew Goode). Every character has a position to fill and they fill it very well. You can sense there was a strong desire not only to play a role but to shed some overdue light on this top secret story. This film is brilliantly cast – and not just because of the actors’ impressive resumes. It is well-cast because of the profound performances they offer here and now. I have a feeling The Imitation Game will become a reference movie, used to remind friends of what we’ve seen Soandso in before.

The Imitation Game has the perfect balance of drama, build, horrific dawning, and speechless regret. There are moments of joy punctuated by the unfairness of reality, and moments of sadness haunted by injustice. This film examines both the fear of foreign powers and the shouting discrimination happening on home turf. Characters lose faith in The System, learn to trust their friends, and understand that some secrets are better off never knowing in the first place. The Imitation Game is an important movie to see, and easily a 9.5/10.

Follow this link to the trailer.

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One thought on “An Imitation Game Hard to Imagine

  1. Pingback: i-Yak | Plenty of Popcorn

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