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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier,...why?
norman and wolf
This will be full of spoilers because that is the way I roll. I have been waiting so long for this movie to be released in the U.S. I even had the opening day marked on our calendar only to find out that "limited release" meant 2 screens in L.A. and 2 in New York. Bastards. So another two week wait and finally a 45 minute trip to the nearest biggish city since our local cineplex wasn't showing it and the next closest cinema has seats that are so close they are crippling. Finally the husband and I were kicked back and ready to watch, and watch we did. I was riveted and the theater was completely silent the whole way through. When it was over the man sitting to the right of me turned to me and said "did you understand it?" I was quite surprised and said yes and he pressed "You understood what happened in the end?" I said yes and commented that it was kinda refreshing not to be spoon-fed everything. We discussed how wonderful the tone and setting of the movie was. Then on the way out, husband and I were talking about it and another man spoke to us as we were passing. Weren't we confused by it? I told him maybe a little but in a good way and that was completely true. I was looking forward to discussing different parts of it with my husband and getting his thoughts on some of the scenes. I loved this movie and didn't find it very confusing at all. I was really surprised to go on-line and see how many people couldn't follow what was happening!! Why??? Is it because some people have a harder time with face recognition and simply couldn't tell the characters apart? Normally I would include myself in that group but since I also am a bit of an entertainment Anglophile I knew every actor in that ensemble, perhaps that gave me an advantage. My husband doesn't though and he had no trouble following it. Nor did the friend who I went with to a second showing. There is really a hot divide between the understanders and the non-understanders with accusations of lying when you say you understood it or of being stupid if you didn't. Personally I wonder if alcohol is involved. Dinner and a couple of drinks most definitely won't mix with this movie. You need all your attention for it. I was looking forward to seeing it again since I was sure that I must have missed things so I went with a friend who is a huge Colin Firth fan ( well, who isn't ;-) ) On second viewing I did catch Smiley lying to Jim about the fate of the agents in Hungary after he was captured and the belief that he sold everyone out to save himself, something I had completely missed the first time around. Important to me because it put my original interpretation of Jim's final act in question. I thought it was a mercy killing, now I'm not so sure, it seems like it could be an act of vengeance manipulated by Smiley. I particularly like my husbands suggestion that he was ordered to do it, cleaning up so to speak, and that he was going back to the Circus. The most telling thing I took away from my second viewing was how straight forward the story was. They were really not coy at all in the storytelling. Esterhaus asks "What about Smiley?" and there a close up of Smiley (and a long sequence of Smiley and Control leaving together after Control announces that Smiley would be leaving with him) It seems very obvious yet my husband, who was able to follow the movie without much trouble, confessed that he didn't know who Smiley was until he saw Jane Smiley's letter. Ricky Tarr tells the Secretary that he can check on who he is with his boss, Peter Guillam. Next scene is a long sequence of Guillam walking down the street and entering the Circus. Connie Sachs explains her suspicions about the Russian diplomat using pictures, text and video, verifies that her suspicions were correct and still people were confused about who he was and why he wasn't arrested. Dates and names are mentioned again and again. Once you realize the Christmas party is a flash back it shouldn't be that confusing the second or third time you go there. Is it because there was no big twist or reveal? That the movie didn't act the way people expect spy movies to? It went from point A to point B and on. A straight story with one nice slow-burning suspense scene with Benedict but otherwise an understated unfolding of a tale where the hero is a middle aged spy who's preparation for capturing the mole involved taking off his shoes, removing his revolver from it's plastic zippered pencil case bag and eating a mint.God, I loved it.     


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