Let me put this out there from the beginning: I’m a totally fucking cranky cinema goer. I find it very hard to discuss films, even films I like, without veering into the territory of ranting. It’s not that I dislike film – quite the contrary – but the result is this kind of terminal disappointment as I encounter film and after film that just doesn’t quite excite me. It gets me into considerable trouble when I discuss films with people at work, because it frequently looks as though I dislike everything, when really I’m just perpetually disapointed by films that take no chances or lack a visual aesthetic or even, god help me, decide to go 3D.
Also, I’m not a huge fan of realism. The more a film tries to simulate reality, the less interested I am. I will watch some utter dreck and adore it simply because it’s trying to do something interesting, even when the story fills me with towering rage (Speed Racer, I’m looking at you).
Which is all a means of putting things into context when I say this: I went to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with my dad on Sunday and, honestly, wow. It’s one of those films that reminds me why I actually like the medium of film, which seems to be a rarity in this day and age of 3D digital effects. I have loved exactly three films in the last five years, in the sense that I walked out of them thinking wow, that was fucking awesome, which means TTSS joins the ranks of Bright Star and Scott Pilgrim Versus the World as reasons the human race should be permitted to keep on existing after allowing fucking Avatar to become one of the highest grossing movies of all time.
My favourite part of TTSS is the way it finds the cinematic way of mimicking LeCarre’s writing – it’s a sparse film that plays its cards very close to the chest in terms of narrative, letting all the meaning come through in carefully constructed shots and subtext. And it’s honest-to-god subtext, not the usual cinematic approach in which you are BEATEN OVER THE HEAD WITH A MIGHTY FUCKING SUBTEXT STICK in order to make sure you get it.
Go see this film. Give the film makers lots and lots of money. They totally deserve it.