Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

I am probably not the one to be writing about “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” I remember making two attempts at the novel “TTSS,” by John le Carre, and not understanding it past the first chapter.  I am afraid that my reaction to the new movie version is not much different but, at the same time, I do not blame the film.  The problem is with me.  Maybe there is something about darkened, smoke filled atmospheric rooms with world weary characters exchanging large amounts of expositional dialogue that just throws an “off” switch in the part of my brain that enables me to follow movie plots.  I do not do well with espionage pictures.  To be fair, the friend with whom I saw “TTSS” enjoyed it, as did many in the audience at the AMC Loews Village 7 at 11 Street and Third Avenue. 

Despite my numbed perception I could still tell that “TTSS” is a film with high production values.  It has been beautifully photographed and produced.  It boasts a fine cast that includes Gary Oldman, John Hurt and Colin Firth.  The film has a studied sense of atmosphere as it portrays the downside of the English spy business in 1973.  There are no lavish casinos and tuxedos and other 007 amenities for these spys.  They are tired and worn out.  There are lots of hushed conversations and double dealings.  Documents are stolen, loyalties are betrayed.  Secret terms like “Circus,” “Witchcraft” and “Reptile Fund” abound.

Those who appreciate and enjoy this type of story telling should definitely see “TTSS.”  Then maybe they can send me an email explaining what the movie was about.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Director Tomas Alfredson, 2011, Focus Features, 127 minutes, rated R


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on December 15, 2011, in New and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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