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Have You Seen: 'Tinker Tailor' worth the complexity

“Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” is a movie adaptation of the book written by John Le Carre’s. Gary Oldman plays the leading man George Smiley. (photo/ cinesnark.wordpress.com)

An early scene in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," a film based off of spy novelist John Le Carre’s best-selling novel of the same name, crystallizes not only the attitude of the main character (played by Gary Old­man), but also crystallizes the attitude of the entire film.

George Smiley (Oldman), Peter Guil­lam (Benedict Cumberbatch) and their driver are driving along a country road. A fly enters the car. The driver and Peter flail aggressively at the fly. The fly works its way to Smiley. He calmly rolls down the window and out goes the fly.

Smiley, much like the film itself, does not engage in theatrics, spontaneous reactions or superfluous displays. He is calm, col­lected and, above all, precise. It's for this very reason that he's selected by the British government to rat out the mole in the Brit­ish secret service.

That is the basic plot of the entire film: There is a mole in the British intelligence agency, and he must be found. The fly must be let out of the car, so to speak. Certain intelligence has revealed that the mole is one of five men who have the code names Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Poorman and Beg­garman. Smiley and Peter spend the film investigating, interviewing, researching, interrogating and spying on others in order to find their man.

Some critics have complained that the film is too slow and too dense to the point of boredom. The film is anything but bor­ing; rather, it's precise, much like its main character. Director Tomas Alfredson, who directed the excellent Vampire film "Let the Right One In," crafts his film with techni­cal precision and an appreciation of what makes good drama. Alfredson never rushes, and the film wisely does not reveal too much at any given time. It relies on the strength of its direction and its actors to achieve a remark­able balance of thrilling deception and satisfying drama. It doesn’t move with the bull-headed enthusiasm of an action film, but instead works at a reasonable, calculated pace.

The film is impec­cably acted by perhaps the best ensemble cast of 2011. Oldman plays Smiley with a fierce, yet quiet determination. Oldman’s performance demonstrates why he is still one of the best actors working today (the fact that he has never been nominated for an Oscar is a genuine travesty). The support­ing cast is peppered with seasoned British actors: Ciaran Hinds, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones and John Hurt all give expertly balanced performances.

All the characters look like men who deal with the most delicate of secret information on a daily basis. Their faces look haggard and droopy, their speech is terse and direct and their very nature seems restrained and reclusive. From the drained colors of meet­ing rooms and the dull grays of Russia to the period-era cars and weapons, all of the visual aspects feel realistic and genuine. The film simply shows a genuine look of the underground Cold War-era espionage.

The plot is occasionally hard to follow, as small tidbits of information are subtly discussed, and various characters drop in and out of the film. It was probably no small feat condensing Le Carre's sprawling, complex novel down into a two-hour film. "Tinker" is the rare film that expects a great deal of concentration out of its audience. Since the plot is so complex, there is little wasted time, and every name, location and subtle move of every character must be carefully observed. The audience cannot afford to ignore anything.

"Tinker" is a film. Never hurries, never reveals too much and keeps its secrets close to its chest. Such a precise, proficient film is a breath of fresh air. It’s rare to see a film with such confidence in itself that it takes the risk of actually taking its time and care­fully plotting its steps. Its plot may get a little too confusing at times, but that doesn't detract from the fact that "Tinker" is a fan­tastic film, the likes of which Hollywood needs more. Too many films nowadays operate under the impression that audiences do not enjoy thinking. It's refreshing to see a film that challenges us to use our brains.