Tonight is the night of the Golden Globes, the first of the big award shows. As always I will be covering Award Season. Today I start with a review of one of this season's top contenders; The Imitation Game. The film is nominated for five Golden Globes tonight, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), as well as nine BAFTA's, 3 Screen Actor's Guild Awards, and many other prizes.
The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing's role in World War II. Turing was a great mathematician and cryptanalist who was given the task of breaking Enigma, a machine that was being used by the Germans to send encrypted messages. If Alan and his team beat the machine, it would help the Allies to win the war. Stop reading here if you want to avoid spoilers.
The movie starts in 1951, a few years after WO II had ended. Alan Turing is robbed and reports about it to the police. They are suspicious about the whole situation and want to know more. This is when Turing starts telling his incredible story. Stories from his childhood, his work during the war and his situation in 1951 are alternated in such a way that all pieces of the puzzle fall in place slowly and beautifully up until the very end.
When Alan Turing is interviewed about the top secret position in the cryptanalist team, he seems to be a very difficult man with symptomps of Asperger. He almost doesn't get the job, but when he proofs to know a lot about Enigma and a way to break the code, he gets it after all. Within no time he becomes head of the cryptanalist department and starts working on a machine to beat the code; Christopher. No one but Turing really believes in it. Only Joan Clarke, one of two new colleagues Turing hires, gets along with Alan. The two eventually get engaged. In the meantime we get to know more about Turing's personal life, he is gay in a time when it was still illegal. He does have a special connection with Joan, but not sexually. All three storylines, Alan's childhood, his time during the war and 1951 'present' end dramatically.
The Imitation Game's story I think is a very special and important one. Of course it's about the war, but it's also about one of today's biggest branches of science, friendship, accomplishing remarkable things, gender equality and of course LGBT rights. Characters of both Joan Clarke and Alan Turing are important reminders that there is no gender or sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else.
Both characters are brilliantly portrayed by Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch respectively. For most of the film Keira is her usual charming self, but in the final scene she truly stands out when she confronts Alan with his own words: sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine. Having said this, I truly believe Knightley is one of the most overlooked actresses of her generation. In my eyes her roles in Anna Karenina and especially Atonement are as good as what she does here, yet this is only her second time as a serious award season contender.
As for Benedict Cumberbatch, he is pretty much sublime as Alan Turing. His willpower, personal struggles and difficult personality feel very real and natural. His interactions with all different characters are very interesting, but the partnership with Keira Knightley is a perfect match. Cumberbatch definitely is a justified nominee tonight. I wonder if he is able to 'defeat' fellow Brit, portrayer of a real-life genius and frontrunner Eddie Redmayne and the other contenders.
Over all I really liked the film. It shed light on a part of WO II I never really knew about and I think it is a shame that someone like Turing, who was a true pioneer and a war hero has been remembered for the wrong things.