Benedict Cumberbatch is rightly tipped for Oscar glory for his potrayal of genius Alan Turing

Image: Black Bear Pictures

A witty, poignant and powerful film, The Imitation Game handles its subject manner brilliantly, giving the viewer a look in to one of the true geniuses in British history: Mathematician and code-cracker Alan Turing.

Much has been made of Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn as the anti-social mastermind, indeed he is the bookies favourite to land the Academy Award for Best Actor next February, and with good reason. Cumberbatch gives an astoundingly intimate portrayal of a historical figure that could so easily fall into caricature, a truly magnificent performance. Keira Knightley, too, gives a good performance as Joan Clarke, and its clear the two have great on-screen chemistry together.

The real star performer, however, is the script, adapted to screen by Graham Moore from the book by Andrew Hodges. The dialogue crackles with a deadpan wit, while at the same time bringing genuine emotion and gravitas to the films more serious moments. Handled with particular grace are Turing’s school life flashbacks, which play out like a victorian romance, where just small actions, each little look, each note passed, come with a huge emotional charge.

Alan Turing’s story is one that, due to a mixture of government secrecy and institutional homophobia, has only relatively recently entered the public consciousness. At once thrilling, witty, heartbreaking, and utterly tragic, the details of his life as a code-breaker and mathematical genius cover only half the story. As a homosexual, Turing suffered horrible treatment after the war, due to his conviction for “indecency” which thousands of british homosexuals were convicted under. It is a stark reminder of the brutality and prejudice of the past, and for discussing this subject, The Imitation Game deserves plaudits. Go and see it.

Alistair Norman

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