Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Postby CAP » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:45 am

I was warned not to bother with this one as Gary Oldman could never hope to match Sir Alec Guinness’s definitive Smiley and the rest was just a pack of public schoolboy poofs betraying one another. Ho hum – that’s the civil service for you, I suppose.

But anyway, eventually I did end up seeing it and although Oldman is no Old Boy, he is every bit as shrewd an actor as Guinness. He certainly works hard on the bland civil servant look. When they come to make The Geoffery Howe story – Gary is clearly the go-to guy.

His severely non-commital and near comatose Smiley did unexpected things to the rest of the story for me. He’s so cool and analytical that plausibility in the story kept sagging. Especially concerning the field agent Ricki Tarr (played by Tom Hardy) – apart from constantly wondering whether Ricki was wearing a hairpiece (maybe hair in the 70s just looked like wigs) and why, Ricki’s actions over the supposedly defecting Russian ‘trade official’ – glamourous blonde babe, Irina (Svetlana Khodchenkova) - start to look pretty unconvincing on any number of levels.

Firstly he can’t hide her effectively from Russian spies in Istanbul even though that's what he’s trained for and has British embassy access, secondly he merely takes her word about a mole in MI6 – yet he is astute enough to recognise another Ruskie ‘trade official’ as clearly a spy, over-acting his part as carousing party animal – and thirdly, even after the Russians murder guards to kidnap said Russian babe – it’s not clear to Rick (Thick Rick) that they would then murder the Russian babe, if not there then back in Russia. So there’s no point trying to engineer an exchange or deal to allow her defection. And there’s no motivation for Ricki to go out on a limb if she really wasn’t ‘his type’ – although that didn’t stop him shagging her - nor reason for the Russians to let her defect, if she really does have info on a highly placed mole (double agent). The whole plot creaks with incredulity, in a way that Le Carre never has for me before. Maybe he is just losing it in his old age. But maybe this icy movie treatment is a little too strict for its own good.

Also - the film unaccountably ends with a stirring 70s French cabaret version of Charles Trenet's 1946 standard La Mer - I can only think this was due to some contractual obligation with principle backer, French production company Studio Canal, as very little of the story happens in France, none of the characters evince a sentimental francophilia. Very odd.
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