The Intense Pleasure of Slow Movies

I have a rare day off in the middle of a rare slow month and I decided to spend it working on a commission and re-watching my favorite movie from 2011.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a film I sat in anticipation of for months. The cast was one reason — I love Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Hurt with a fervency that anyone other than a hardcore film fan would probably find embarrassing. The subject matter was another reason — it’s a period spy thriller set in England in the early 1970s.

The pacing of this film and it’s characters appeals to me in many of the ways 2001: A Space Odyssey does. It’s a cerebral story, low on the violent, quick-cut action ubiquitous to most spy movies. Instead, the film’s tension hinges on discovery and the threat of discovery: George Smiley digging through the evidence to find the betrayer among his number, the threat of agents Peter Guillam and Ricky Tarr being discovered as they help Smiley, the cost to everyone involved. Smiley himself is a very emotionally contained character and he exudes both authority and restraint. He never loses his temper and we see him raise his voice only once toward the end. He’s a (sometimes) safe and very pleasant character to get lost with.

Tinker Tailor is a linear narrative with several flashbacks and the way it allows the events of the story to unfold (particularly the first and final fifteen minutes) is slow, subtle and requires several viewings to appreciate the amount of detail the writers expect the audience to pick up without spelling it out for them. It’s a mindbender in places, which during the times when depression and anxiety seem intent on turning my brain inside-out, is a welcome distraction.

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~ by blackmoodcraft on May 12, 2012.

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