The Imitation Game (2014)

Wow my list is super long SO SORRY GUYS! But I’m going to start with the most recent I watched because WOW guys. That movie was incredible.

The Imitation Game (2014)
 Dir. Morten Tyldum
 Writ. Andrew Hodges, Graham Moore
 Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mathew Goode
 Rated PG-13
 114 mins.
 Biography, Drama, Queer Film
 IMDB: 8.3

This movie has gained so much critical praise that it’s one of the movies people expect to sweep the awards this season, and I can honestly say I 100% agree with these critics.

The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing, a 20th century British mathematician who, arguably, is the reason that the Allies won World War 2.  Alan Turing, if you don’t know much about the history of computer science, was the man who invented the Touring Machine, which is probably the first invention that bears the concept of the modern computer. He’s also considered the father of artificial intelligence research because of his concept of the Turing Test, which is the method still used today to distinguish whether or not a machine is able to ‘think’ by having a judge ‘talk’ to a machine and a human and, if the judge is unable to distinguish the machine from the human, then the machine has passed the test. Turing himself called this not the Turing Test, but the ‘imitation game’.

In The Imitation Game, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is sent to Bletchley Park to work with the German codebreakers during the second World War. They were tasked with breaking the codes sent with the German Enigma Machine. The film has been critiqued for being not perfectly accurate in the details of Hut 8 and their German codebreaking, but I am one that remembers that this is a movie, therefore it will not be totally accurate. It’s meant to tell a story in 3 acts with characters and emotional involvement, not a documentary. It shows how Alan Turing decided to follow the example of the Polish and build a machine to break the code rather than try to decode messages each day with manpower only even though most others thought he was mad for even thinking about it.

The film also focuses greatly on the fact that Alan Turing was a homosexual. Turing’s sexuality is a common feature of the film, such as his childhood first love being depicted in flashbacks and the story itself being set in a frame-story of him explaining his work during the war to an investigator who has arrested him for being a homosexual in 1952.

One of the more common criticisms for this film I see are related to his homosexuality, or in some opinions, the lack of depiction of it. There are even critical reactions to the way Joan Clarke’s (Keira Knightley) relationship with him is played up to be more than it was, even though it’s only ever shown to be a beautiful friendship between a brilliant woman who was treated like a woman, not a genius, and a man who appreciated her intelligence. Honestly, after viewing the film, I have to ask ‘did we even see the same movie?!’ This movie focused a LOT on Turing’s sexuality, in my opinion. I think it has enough in it to be termed a queer film, but it’s really a historical film more than sexuality based. The critique of ‘no depictions of a relationship’ are just painfully ridiculous to me. As someone that you all (hopefully) know by now is greatly interested in LGBT film, this common belief that it’s a ‘cop-out’ to not show a love story or sex scene is insane. This movie is about one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century arguably saving millions of lives by creating something that aided in ending the war faster. It shows PLENTY of his sexuality. It focuses on that a LOT! And I won’t give spoilers since the film is still relatively new, but I personally feel that the short amount of focus on the end of his life was done very well and was the perfect amount of time spent on the matter. It’s meant to be an emotional gut-punch, not overshadow the amazing things he did in his life with the disgusting way he was treated near the end of it.

The Imitation Game isn’t about that. The movie is about a man doing something incredible and then it shows us how he was never thanked for what he did, rather he was punished for who he was. It does it VERY WELL.

One last thing that has to be brought up is Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting in this role.

It’s just phenomenal. I don’t know if Alan Turing was autistic, but the way he’s portrayed in this movie is the best depiction of autism before autism was a known disorder that I’ve EVER seen. It was incredible. (Not taking away from Little!Turing actor Alex Lawther, who was INCREDIBLE in the flashbacks as well) Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated for many awards for this portrayal and I honestly hope he wins them, because his performance here was breathtaking.

I know that there’s a lot of people who have the ‘Eurgh, Benedict Cumberbatch, he’s in EVERYTHING’ reaction to this film, and think it’s just more kissing his ass because he’s popular, but my only response to those people is that this is how the industry works! You have a man who is young, attractive, and popular right now. Add the fact that he is GENUINELY talented, and of course everybody is going to want him in their movie! The whole film industry is built on putting butts in the seats by using an actor that people love at the time. And often it’s not even a very talented actor, so with Cumberbatch, filmmakers are getting a young, attractive, popular actor who is very talented. Cause let’s be real, even if you don’t like him, nobody can put bias aside and focus just on his acting and say ‘nah, he’s not a good actor’.

The Imitation Game is honest to God one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s inspiring, it’s beautifully done, and the acting is incredible. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this film, you really should!

My Rating: 9/10

About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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2 Responses to The Imitation Game (2014)

  1. The scene where Alan waits to give Christopher the coded letter is very sad.

    I saw this in the theater with a bunch of older people who were not thrilled by mentions of Turings sexuality and scoffed very loudly.


    • And yet other people were pissed that there wasn’t anything more blatant. Psh, can’t please anybody, huh?

      (Personally I’m glad they didn’t make some totally unimportant romantic element because it would’ve totally been out of place in the story and interrupted the narrative flow horribly.)


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