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‘The Imitation Game’ Review: Cumberbatch Angles Himself For Oscar Hopeful

the imitation game benedict cumberbatch

Alan Turing is a name that a lot of people may not be familiar with. One of the Bletchley Park codebreakers, he and a team of top mathematicians and analysts helped defeat a seemingly impossible German coding machine and helped turn the tide of the Second World War.

The Imitation Game follows the life of famed mathematician and genius Alan Turing (an impeccable Benedict Cumberbatch) as he secured himself a place working for Allied Intelligence during World War II, and helped recruit a team of fellow code-breakers into solving and decrypting the famous Nazi Enigma machine.

Fortunately, The Imitation Game, a biopic concerning Turing’s life – as a child and adult, both in the war and years afterwards – helps shape the idea and image of a troubled, lonely, tormented man trapped in a world rife with social exclusion, homophobia, and ignorance.

Cumberbatch gives one of his finest, and most sincere performances as Turing, emoting a detached yet emotive presence as a man aware of his own failings and differences to the majority of the world, but struggling to connect with people. This is not his Sherlock Holmes turn – instead Turing is more fragile and sad, broken beneath his façade, and desperately seeking the bonds denied to him.

His scenes with Joan Clarke (played here by a radiant and spiky Keira Knightley) are a highlight, as the pair show why they balance each other out so well, and the chemistry between stalwarts Cumberbatch and Knightley is exceptional.

In such a British production as this, it is no surprise to see many UK acting alums popping up in opportune schemes and aiding the film’s smooth and graceful production – Charles Dance is at his haughty best as Commander Denniston, Rory Kinnear shines as a compassionate ’50s-set detective dealing with Turing, and The Good Wife‘s Matthew Goode excels as the womanising and intelligent Hugh Alexander, Turing’s rival-turned-friend, although their performances are three amongst many solid turns in this stellar period piece.

The cinematography is gorgeous, flitting between three separate time periods, evoking feelings of nostalgia, loss, and pain that resonate with the viewer, with director Morten Tyldum overseeing a thoughtful and respectful look at a man who helped save millions of lives and shape the course of the world.

The Imitation Game is a film that will no doubt earn plenty of attention when awards season rolls around, and while Cumberbatch might be a couple of years away from having the shiny gold statuette on his bedside table, performances as nuanced and heart-rending as this are sure to speed him along his path a little quicker.