Vintage le Carré, a restrained, almost meditative spy drama, the antithesis of the Bondian formula, with myriad shades of indistinguishable grays separating the intelligence enemies, as opposed to the more formulaic black and white morality of the blockbuster spy mentality. Gary Oldman portrays George Smiley, a senior member of British intelligence (quaintly referred to as the “Circus”) who along with his superior “Control” (a very fine John Hurt, who expertly portrays a man ravaged by decades of moral decaying from within) are summarily “retired” service in the aftermath of a botched operation in Hungary, intended to penetrate the identity of a highly placed mole Control suspected was operating within the Circus. Later circumstances lead a civilian Minister overseeing the finances of the intelligence service to secretly recall Smiley to ferret out the identity of this same mole whose existence is now regarded, not as a fanciful affectation of Control’s (who has since died), but a dangerous reality. The miasma in which the film then penetrates in Smiley’s deliberate, calculated and ferociously concentrated search for the enemy is handsomely rendered by director Tomas Alfredson whose deliberate atmospheric eye is similar to that with which he impressed so mightily with his extraordinary vampire thriller of 2009 “Let the Right One In”; calm, virtually graceful in it’s unhurried rythym, allowing the viewer the opportunity to absorb the minute details of what is going on in the scene. His technique often to cut scene to the center of the bone: eschewing traditional narrative fat in favor of finding the exact moment of a situation which brings about the source of it’s meaning and it’s emotional power.
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