Review: “The Imitation Game”

Just like any good piece of historical cinema, “The Imitation Game’s” noblest feat is what it teaches us about how we should act in the present. And that is that although people may act different it doesn’t mean they can’t do great things. Genius should always be treated with admiration and given all the room to soar.

“It’s the people who no one imagines anything of who can do the things no one imagined.” That is a quote straight from the movie and speaks to the man it is about: Alan Turing. He was by all accounts a genius like Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking. What he did during World War II saved millions of lives and future generations from Nazi rule. Later on his working would stand as a prelude to modern day computers, something that has no doubt changed the world as we know it. Through all of this he was able to overcome adversity just for being a little odd, some would say arrogant and cruel, but ultimately he was just different.

And yet he committed suicide at the age of 41 because he was forced to undergo chemical castration after being charged with indecency for being a homosexual. A tragic end to a magical mind all because, even after proving his worth, people never could understand him or others like him. Sound familiar?

“Game” seeks to address the issue that for some reason will never be solved: No matter whom the person is people never seem to get past the little things that make them different from themselves. The movie proves that it is what is inside that makes us all capable of great things, and that sexual orientation or even an awkward personality, hardly make the measure of a man.

The movie does so with warmth that may on one occasion cross the line into sappy waters (look for the ever persistent “nod of approval” from character to another) but proves rewarding with help from a witty script and a bravo performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing. He reminded of Colin Firths brilliant portrayal in “Kings Speech”. It’s one that rings with genius and wit to mask the utter pain and isolation beneath watered eyes. As he is explaining his story to the police who arrested him you see the suffering anyone like him who have had to explain themselves just because they are different. It is a process just as tragic as the unfortunate death of Turing himself.

Not only did he prove himself a genius far beyond his years but the movie also shows the beauty in the coming together of opposite sides to do what is right. On one side is the awkward Turing and on the other are all his co-workers who at first despised him and his methods, preferring work done by men other than machine. But in the end, as these movies do, they come together and put aside their differences to save the day and embrace each other for who they are. Sound like something that should be done in a certain capital of American politics?

Kiera Knightley is also tremendous as the female of the group, Joan Clark, who helped and found a commonality in Turing as being a woman meant she was under the same scrutiny. The two make for perfectly charming leads without the sappy romance. They are kindred spirits who bottle up their insecurities for the common good. And after a certain point you realize maybe being funny is a good defense mechanism.

Unlike the white-washed “American Sniper”, “The Imitation Game” is the movie America needs. Poignant, effortlessly witty and with a timely message that is needed now more than ever; I’m sure I could tell you what that is, but that would take all the fun away from you, wouldn’t it?

Grade: A


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