The Imitation Game

All Pass Priority reviews, such as one about at The Imitation Game, explore the emotive aspects of the work rather than offering a critical analysis. We hope you can use our reviews to gauge how it feels rather than how it works technically or objectively.

By Ben Groulx on

Listen up: Alan Turing was an incredibly important man who created an incredibly important machine and ended up doing an incredibly important thing, and you’re going to know it. The Imitation Game, Morten Tyldum’s biopic about the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, forcefully places a certain magnificence on the man — and in turn on to itself. While the screenplay was at worst clunky, yet built on a solid foundation, and brought to life admirably by the cast in its entirety, The Imitation Game exudes an air of self-imposed grandeur and is heartily diminished by substantial condescension.

The Imitation Game is the story of British mathematician Alan Turing — portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in a role reminiscent of his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes (BBC’s Sherlock), but more earnest and less witty — focusing primarily on his time at Bletchley Park in WWII deciphering the German Enigma code. Turing is depicted as some sort of an autistic genius, making a point to show that he would much rather tackle the Enigma challenge alone than work as part of a team.

Benedict Cumberbatch proves once again why he is regarded as a Capital A Actor. With a terrific ability of weaving the awkwardness of social encounters with comedy and poignancy, Cumberbatch is never simply playing an unpleasant scholar, but a wounded soul doing his best to work in a world that cannot understand him, whether it be his genius or his sexuality. Turing’s sexual orientation is revealed in such jarring spurts and so severely down-played one can wonder why bother making it a focal point at all? Never do we see Turing engaged in any level of same-sex romance, other than a boyhood infatuation with Christopher during his childhood flashbacks. Not a single character aware of Turing’s sexual preference has an issue with it, despite it being expressed on numerous occasions that is is heavily frowned upon — and criminal — during the 1940s and 50s. We are even subjected to one of Turing’s straight characters explaining how to properly be gay, despite Turing already (successfully) having affairs at the university.

“Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” That’s a line repeated on three occasions, and the way it is presented each time is an overly complex way of saying “You can do it, even if you’re _____.” (Use your own!) Hey, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman, gay, or borderline-autistic, you can do it! As we race against the clock to decrypt the German messages, the film makes sure its stance on diversity is very apparent, at times even detracting from moving the story forward.

While the film would have fared better without its self-imposed gravity, there is real beauty in The Imitation Game. With the help of an absolutely terrific cast and spot-on direction, the film is a joy to watch. It will deservedly go on to sit among the most well-crafted biopics (yet not historically accurate), and as one of the best films of 2014.