Men in Suits Talking About Stuff
A Review of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
By Kristin Fontanilla
Before I wax poetic about the clothes, the atmosphere and Gary Oldman’s performance in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, let me tell you upfront: I really liked this movie.
Starring Oldman, Colin Firth, the guy who plays Sherlock in the BBC show, and Bane, the movie is based on the novel by John Le Carre, which many consider the ultimate spy tale.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the movie, is all about restraint.
Oldman plays George Smiley, a retired MI6 agent who has to identify a mole within Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) agency. Taking place during the Cold War, you get the sense that the old guard is tired and a bit of a mess. Smiley’s an outcast, a former top guy looking in, so with his right hand (inside) man, Peter Guillam, he’s working in the shadows to uncover the traitor.
With characters conspiring and lurking in the shadows, it’s no surprise that this is a quiet movie, where the silences carry as much meaning as the dialogue and almost every action hides a motive. A smile, a side-eyed glance, a hesitant look over the shoulder… there’s a lot left to interpretation. It’s a movie that demands attention.
The story benefits from great atmosphere too. Almost everything looks faded and worn, from the SIS headquarters to Smiley’s workspace and all the places in-between.
I also “squee’d!” over the costumes. If you enjoy men in three piece suits, this movie is for you. At first glance, you might look at the characters and think “yeah suits, so what?” But look closely and you’ll notice that each character’s costume is distinct and reflective of his state of mind.
Take Toby Esterhase, for example. Sharp, snappy and a bit flamboyant, he is a man who cares about appearances. Bill Haydon was dressed like his older counterparts in the SIS, but he showed bits of his personality, from his cufflinks to his desert boots. He’s one of the few characters who displays any lightheartedness.
Peter Guillam, the young MI6 agent, is more modern and less “military” than the men he works for. I mean, look at this handsome cat (trust, I never thought I’d say that about Sherlock.) I mean, look how dapper he is with his flash of color and modern hairstyle. You can’t see them here, but he wore slightly flared trousers, which… well… “high-five, dude! Good job rockin’ those!”
And, of course, there’s George Smiley, whose somber clothing reflects his quiet personality. He peers at documents and people with equal thoughtfulness and deliberation through his glasses, which he chooses with great care at the beginning of this wonderful movie.
Get yourself to the theater and see why Oldman was nominated for an Oscar for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. He probably won’t win (whatever Clooney, you play the SAME GUY IN EVERY MOVIE) but he damn well deserves to be recognized. – (8/10)
(Editor’s Note: New Nada contributor Kristin Fontanilla is three parts science geek and one part tech nerd. She dislikes karaoke and her favorite color is pink. Watch this space for more of her thoughts on movies.)