The true story of an awkward mathematical genius during WW1, who worked to create a machine that could crack the Nazi codes, but whose personal life would cost him everything.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance
Director: Morten Tyldum
Oddly, what struck me first about this film was how it never rained. Everything looked lush, golden, it’s a beautifully shot film, which evokes the time period excellently… But why doesn’t it rain?
It’s a bit like the core problem with this film: it’s all a bit too easy. Too formulaic. In a lot of ways, it’s just another true story, awkward genius sticks it to the establishment and learns to accept himself film. It’s glossy. Each time the protagonist faces defeat, someone saves him in the nick of time, like in that exact same scene. All it takes to turn things around for him with his team of mathematicians is the love of a good woman and a bag apples.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pleasure to watch Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) be arrogant with authority, and see them taken down a peg. But it’s also kind of manipulative of the audience. This could be any Robin Williams film of the 90’s, anti-estabishment guy just wants to change the world but the grown ups won’t let him. And actually, though Cumberbatch’s performance is excellent, showing us an arrogant yet vulnerable man, isn’t Alan Turing kind of acting like a jerk? Aren’t they glossing over that?
What also struck me was how straight he was for a man who was chemically castrated during a time when being homosexual was illegal. You’ll never see him make physical contact with a man in this film. He won’t flirt with anyone, or even get caught gazing longingly. We’re just told that he is gay. And there are some affectionate notes passed while he’s still at school. Aren’t we beyond this? Are we saying it’s ok to be gay, but we still don’t want to have it represented on screen? Maybe Alan Turing never had a relationship with any man, other than the boy he liked at school and some male prostitutes. And maybe he didn’t crush on any of the guys in his team. It’s just odd. Again, the glossing over.
So, all that aside, what can I say about this film? It is heartwarming. I like stories about people beating the Jerrys. I love the costumes. The performances are all excellent. There’s a lot of warmth in this film, and I love that Alan Turing’s work and life are shared here. He deserves to be known and talked about. I love how he goes to great lengths to have a woman on his team, because she can do the job, rejecting ideas about woman’s place in society, and all that. The film has laughs, sadness, it’s very a very entertaining, satisfying film in a lot of ways.
See It If: you liked A Beautiful Mind, Shine or A Theory Of Everything, it should also please WW1 enthusiasts. Or those who liked Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society etc.