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He Said, She Said Review Site

The Imitation Game

What He said:

He

This movie tells the story of Alan Turing – who was a mathematician, cryptanalyst, and inventor. Why is he so important? Well, he created a machine that helped break Nazi codes during WWII and allowed Allies Forces to intercept their transmissions.  He was also gay, which might not seem like a big deal, but back during this time it was actually illegal.

The movie is a nonlinear story that jumps back and forth between various points in Turing’s life.

It opens up in 1951. We find ourselves at Turing’s house, where two police officers have just arrived to investigate what appears to be a break in. His (Benedict Cumberbatch) house is a mess, but he claims nothing was stolen. He is annoyed the cops are there to begin with, since he didn’t even call them. His neighbors did, claiming they heard some kind of disturbance.

The Imitation Game

The police leave, but are suspicious. They do some digging and eventually bring him in for questioning. Much of the rest of the movie is him telling one of the police officers the story of his life.  

We are then taken back to 1939, where Turing has recently applied for a job with the military. Commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance), the man interviewing him for the job, asks him why he wants to serve his country. Turning, being…let’s call it socially awkward, explains that he doesn’t, he just wants a challenge and solving the mystery surrounding the Nazi’s Enigma machine is the biggest challenge in the world at this given moment. Commander Denniston initially tells him to get out, but when it comes up that Turing enjoys and is very good at cryptography, Denniston decides to give him a chance.

Turing is placed on a team with five or so other men, whose goal is to break these Nazi codes. If that task  isn’t hard enough, the Enigma machine allows the Nazis to reset their codes every night, making it impossible to solve Nazi transmissions.

Turing swears it can be done though, but there’s a catch. While all the other men work on deciphering the transmissions they intercept each day, Turing works tirelessly on creating a machine that he swears will do the work for them. This creates a lot of tension between Turing and the rest of the group, because they are working nonstop on cracking the code for each transmission as they come in, while he sits off by himself drawing up blueprints. It also doesn’t help that Turing has very poor social skills. This guy makes Sheldon Cooper look like a social butterfly.  

The Imitation Game

A woman named Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) eventually joins the team. She’s a smart as a whip, but has ten times the personality that Alan does. Despite this, she takes a liking to him. She understands that he isn’t doing it on purpose and very likely suffers from some kind of personality disorder. She works with him on improving his attitude in an attempt to get more out of the team.

We also see snippets of Turing’s childhood. As you can imagine, someone with his personality does not have an easy time amongst their peers – particularly at that age. He is mocked and even bullied at school, but manages to fine a single friend. It’s a boy named Christopher (Jack Bannnon), who Turing really takes a liking to. Unlike the other boys, Christopher is kind to Alan, and is the one to introduces him to cryptography.
This movie was interesting for a few reasons.

First, it was about a part of history I knew nothing about. I fully admit, I had never even heard of Alan Turing before this movie. I didn’t even know what the Enigma Machine was before seeing this movie. I knew there were a lot of secret transmissions and attempts to decipher them, but knew nothing of the details.

It’s also interesting to see the politics – strategy might be a better word – of how all this information is handled. If you are able to crack these codes and figure out your enemies plans, the natural instinct is to send troops to every location and stop them. However, your enemy will quickly realize you are intercepting their transmission and find another way to send them. It’s an interesting moral dilemma.

Turning himself is also a fascinating character.  Your initial reaction of the guy is, “He’s an ass hole.” It doesn’t take long before you realize that something is actually wrong with him. I don’t know what was actually wrong with him medically speaking, but he was not a normal guy.  If I had to guess, I’d say he had Asperger’s, was autistic, or maybe both. So, at that point you’re a little sympathetic towards him – because he’s obviously can’t help some of what he is doing – but you don’t outright excuse him for the way he acts either. You know it’s not all his fault, but there are still times it seems that he’s unnecessarily mean. He’s not good socially, ok got it. He doesn’t really grasp how to act in a social – or even work – setting. Ok, no problem. However, there’s times where he insults, degrades, and humiliates his peers. It makes it hard to feel bad for the guy.

The Imitation Game

He was also a bit of a tortured man. As I mentioned earlier, he was gay. I knew it was shunned upon back then, but I didn’t realize it was actually illegal. I can imagine that being told by society that you’re sick and disturbed (being gay) can take a toll on anyone. However, when you add that to the fact that he already had some personality issues, it seems probable that he was a very tortured man.  He didn’t come off like the nicest guy in the world, but he did not live a happy life and that was sad to watch, even in a work of fiction. For that alone, I think it is important to see his story. When you add to the fact he was pivotal to British intelligence during WWI, it only magnifies how important his role was in history. His story is brought to life by a real powerhouse performance from Cumberbatch.

Matthew Goode played Hugh Alexander, one of the members of the team tasked with figuring out the Enigma Machine. He had a tense relationship with Turing, as just about anyone working with that kind of personality would and Goode portrayed that frustration very well. Charles Dance was also very good as Commander Denniston, as was Mark Strong (who played Major General Stewart Menzies). It was a very well-acted movie all around. Oh yes, and I can’t forget about Keira Knightley, who has really come a long way since Pirates of the Caribbean. If the real life Joan was half as understanding and caring was Knightley was in this movie, the woman should be named a saint.

This is a very good historical drama. It’s well-acted and very authentic looking movie.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on May 1, 2015.

The Imitation Game

What She said:

She

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but Benedict Cumberbatch is suddenly a really big deal. He's pretty much everywhere, and nearly every movie he does is greeted with lots of buzz and the respect of critics. I remember a supporting role that he played in Atonement many moons ago. He basically was a rapist and so, unlike droves of other women, I just look at his face and am immediately skeeved out. Sorry 'Batch, I just cannot help it.

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is one of the 'Batch's most recent cinematic offerings, and it was all the rage around Oscar season. 'Batch plays Alan Turing, a mathematical and statistical genius who led a team that broke the German Enigma code used during World War II. The film is, in part, a non-fiction historical piece that explains how Engima was finally cracked. But, much more than that, it's a look into the brilliant, yet burdened mind of Turing. As is the case with most super geniuses, he wasn't exactly normal. He is depicted as being elitist, crass, insensitive, and antisocial. Despite his remarkable talent, few actually want to work with him because he's so darn difficult.

Turing settles in with a group of fellow mathematicians and they start slogging away at Enigma. While his coworkers try to crack the code the good 'ole fashioned way, Turing believes that modern science and mechanics are the answer. He decides to build a machine, a rudimentary computer of sorts, that automatically works through the probabilities in search of the Enigma code. Turing has very little support in this endeavor. However, he does recruit and become close with a female associate named Joan Clarke. Clarke is also quite talented; however, as an unwed woman in her mid-twenties, she faces a stigma and expectations regarding her future.

Turing grows to trust Clarke immensely, and when her work at Bletchly Park is threatened, he makes an offer of marriage in a ploy to keep her there. This is in spite of the fact that Turing is revealed as being homosexual. Like Clarke, he is unable to openly be the person who he wants to be. Clarke is perfectly happy to marry Turing, but he realizes that it's not really fair to her. Once his machine, nicknamed Christopher, successfully cracks the Enigma code, Turing ends his engagement with Clarke, although the two remain lifelong friends.

The film tells its stories through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards. In the present, which is the 1950s, Turing is being interviewed by police with regards to a break-in at his home. They become curious about his background, and notice that his involvement with the government has been covered up. In the past, we meet Turing as a young teenager. He is bullied in school, but is befriended by a slightly older boy named Christopher. It is through these flashbacks that the viewer is able to understand that this boy--Turing's first love--would come to impact and dictate much of the man's future life.

The Imitation Game

Unfortunately, things don't really end well for Turing, as they also did not in real life. It's kind of sad to see the man become broken, both by his own remarkable mind and by the malicious prejudices of the world around him.

Ok, so I'll admit it, the 'Batch is really good in this movie. The dude, without a doubt, has talent. Yes, he may look like a total creeper, and that deep gravely voice makes the hairs on my arms stand up, but he's pretty darn effecting as an actor. Turing is a very complex character, and it certainly would not be easy to give him the depth that he warrants. I have to give the 'Batch a lot of due credit for this one. Keira Knightley is also quite good as Clarke. I think she is often an underrated actress who is capable of some pretty emotional performances. Or maybe I'm just a little biased because she played my heroine Elizabeth Bennett.

Anyway, The Imitation Game features stellar performances across the board. It's not the fastest paced movie out there, but I found it interesting to watch. The writing is pretty tight, and the film is well constructed. There's nothing too outside-the-box in its visual appeal. It's a period flick, and in that sense is pretty traditionally shot. It feels authentic, but nothing you see on screen will blow your mind.

The movie is good, and worthy of your time, especially if you're a junky for historical flicks or appreciate character dramas. There's some social commentary to the movie, which helps to broaden its appeal somewhat. But some may find it a little boring to watch. I liked this one, although it's not the best film I've seen so far this year.

Thumbs up.