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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Early Review Round-Up: "Chilly and Acrid" "Razor-Sharp"

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood September 5, 2011 at 11:40AM

Early reviews praise Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) in the Cold War spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, the film adaptation of John le Carre’s 1974 best-selling novel directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). Oldman plays MI6 agent George Smiley, previously immortalized by Alec Guinness in the 1979 BBC mini-series. Critics say that Tom Hardy also pops in the ensemble including Colin Firth, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Early reviews praise Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) in the Cold War spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, the film adaptation of John le Carre’s 1974 best-selling novel directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). Oldman plays MI6 agent George Smiley, previously immortalized by Alec Guinness in the 1979 BBC mini-series. Critics say that Tom Hardy also pops in the ensemble including Colin Firth, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Focus Features will open the Working Title film on November 18. Reviews and trailer posted below.

Matt Mueller, Thompson on Hollywood

Alfredson’s approach to Le Carre’s tale is diligent, honourable, astute, a carefully executed whodunit that captures the stark drabness of early ‘70s Cold War Britain (the hair, suits and skin pallor all marvellously dreary), contains a clutch of nail-biting sequences and features a razor-sharp turn from Oldman as the doleful spy brought in from the cold to unmask whichever one of his former colleagues is leaking secrets to the Russians… Minus that last cathartic gasp, Tinker Tailor Solder Spy settles for being a very good as opposed to a superb spy thriller.


Xan Brooks, The Guardian

A marvellously chill and acrid cold war thriller from Swedish director Tomas Alfredson. Right here, right now, it's the film to beat at this year's festival…. Nimbly navigating the labyrinthine source novel by John Le Carré, Alfredson eases us through a run-down 70s London, all the way to a municipal MI6 bunker, out by the train yards… Oldman gives a deliciously delicate, shaded performance, flitting in and out of the wings like some darting grey lizard.

Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

It is one of the few films so visually absorbing, felicitous shot after shot, that its emotional coldness is noticed only at the end, when all the plot twists are unraveled in a solid piece of thinking-man’s entertainment for upmarket thriller audiences…
With the Cold War long gone and other problems to worry about on the world political scene, Tinker Tailor risks feeling out of date and superfluous. Alfredson’s solution has been to celebrate the period and its rigidity in a stylish feast of modernism designed by Maria Djurkovic and lit by Hoyte van Hoytema.

David Gritten, The Telegraph

We’ve never seen Oldman like this before, and he’s simply stunning: his soliloquy about his only meeting with his counterpart, the Soviet super-spy Karla, is so engrossing you forget to breathe…
Much of the credit for all this must go to director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). He captures scenes with silky fluidity, dispatching his cameras into nooks, crannies and improbable angles, finding a visual equivalent to the story’s hunt for complex solutions…
The best compliment to pay Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is to affirm that it does what every great film can do: it makes your heart pound, gets your pulses racing and sends your brain cells into overdrive.

Chris Laverty, Clothes on Film

If TTSS falls down anywhere it is with unevenly developed characters. Some are given too much time to breathe, some not enough…
With a dream cast who excel, plus an intricate story that plays out convincingly and with a satisfying conclusion, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is essential viewing; a classy, very British affair, despite the broad nationalities of its crew. If only you could take a cup of tea into the cinema.

Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist

Alfredson appeared to be a major talent after Let The Right One In, and he exceeds his break-out here, never letting the style get in the way of the storytelling (as happened once or twice in the vampire film), while retaining an impeccable eye for period. The greys and browns that dominate the film—thanks to sterling work from DoP Hoyte van Hoytema—perfectly capture the grim days of 1970s Britain, and the attention to detail displayed is really quite extraordinary, every set and backdrop adding texture to the action… Alfredson revels in the analogue quality enabled by the setting, lingering on details of paper and tape in a computer-free world.

This article is related to: Awards, Box Office, Directors, Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Video, Reviews, Fall, Thriller, Colin Firth, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.