- The Magazine
The night before a screening of The Imitation Game, I’d seen Alejandro González Iñárritu’s manic, “single shot” Birdman, one of those experimental movies that pushes unrelentingly at the boundaries of modern cinema and, in the process, leaves us exhausted without quite knowing why.
Imagine my relief, therefore, at The Imitation Game, which is about as formulaic a drama as they come. It does what it needs to do, goes where it needs to go, evokes the emotions it needs to evoke, and does so without ever testing our intellectual limits. It’s not an unintelligent film by any extent. It’s just traditionally manipulative. And on that night, at least, manipulation had never felt so welcome.
The Imitation Game delves into the life of Alan Turing, the socially-arrested British mathematician and cryptanalyst who helped his country crack Enigma, the indecipherable Nazi coded-message machine (you can see one on display at D.C.’s Spy Museum). Turing’s efforts helped bring an end to World War II, and the machine he developed to crack the Nazi code ushered in the age of the modern computer.
Adapted by Graham Moore from the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” the screenplay has been kicking around Hollywood for years, unproduced, until actor du jour Benedict Cumberbatch agreed to play Turing. With his remote, chilly repose, and vague, slightly off-kilter visage, Cumberbatch gives a spectacular yet unshowy performance. It’s deep, quiet, pained, secret, allowing only fleeting glimpses into the soul of the difficult, driven genius. Of course, those who know anything about gay history know Turing was homosexual at a time when such acts were illegal in Britain and carried severe penalties. The penalty in Turing’s case — hormonal emasculation — is largely attributed to the reason for his eventual suicide.
Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) keeps a firm, steady hold on the narrative, unearthing small yet critical emotional touchstones throughout. Turing’s boyhood crush on a classmate, which later fuels his obsession to create artificial intelligence. Turing’s almost-human relationship with brilliant female mathematician Jane Clarke (Keira Knightly, doing her best one-note feisty). His combative relationship with his colleagues at Bletchley Park (including Matthew Goode and Downton Abbey‘s Allen Leech), where they toiled in secret to decode messages from a machine that changed its cipher daily.
Tyldum really shines when dramatizing the “eureka moment” that allowed Turing’s machine to finally work. It’s a stunningly constructed sequence, gripping and thrilling, and is followed by a headlong plummet into a moral hell of unimaginable, yet necessary, consequence. Still, one has to wonder what a more assured, adventurous director have done with the material.
In the end, The Imitation Game is a deep, absorbing look into the mind of a natural born outlier. You can’t help but walk out of the theater feeling as though you’ve just seen one of the more important stories about one of the more important people — gay or straight — of our time. — Randy Shulman
The Imitation Game () is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 114 minutes. It opens Friday, Dec. 12 at area theaters.
Macha Theatre Works has commissioned 17 writer/performers to create a 17 Minute Story based on the prompt "How did I get here?". These solo shows are crafted over months and performed live from Macha'... Read more
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. "LOLEK" brings to life the captivating story of Karol Wojtyla (later Pope St. John Paul II) and his heroic resistance to the Naz... Read more
“If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all” – Billie Holiday. She was one of the most influential jazz singers of all time with a voice unparalleled in the ind... Read more
Perennial funnyman Steve Bluestein has taken on a new mantle – talk show host. Having established himself as a well-known standup comic, TV writer, producer, actor, playwright, and author, it is the... Read more
To kick off its 23rd Anniversary Season, Chance Theater presents the Orange County premiere of the Drama Desk Award-nominated musical that is a soaring tribute to the power of friendship and the peopl... Read more
Left your heart in San Francisco? Find it again at The San Francisco Magic Studio. Magic, Mind Reading, and maybe even a Pirate. Rather than travel to see us, we are going to travel to see you through... Read more
Daniel Nardicio, Sam Benedict and Taylor Shubert present "Stand Up for Asian Americans" to benefit Red Canary Song, a grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers. The show celebrates AAPI H... Read more
Omnium: A Bold New Circus transports the audience into a world of wonder, inspiring all with extraordinary feats of human accomplishment and the astounding potential of the human spirit. Experience th... Read more
Join us for an intimate and interactive multi-magician experience, performed live nightly. For the first time in 100 years, the secretive magic society The Conjurors’ Club pulls back the curtain for... Read more
With ANW powerhouses Deborah Strang and Geoff Elliott alternating performances in "An Iliad" as the Poet reliving and recounting bloodshed through hundreds and thousands of years, they embody the lone... Read more
EastVille is finally hosting indoor shows again! Many of you aren't able to attend in person, so we're streaming this night's live show. So now you can experience true Brooklyn stand-up, and see a rea... Read more
Deaf Austin Theatre is proud to host our first ever Short Play Festival. This event will showcase six new short plays written by Deaf playwrights. The theme for this year's festival is "elevator," so ... Read more
Improv legends and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" veterans Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood unleash a wild, comedic ride with "Stream of Consciousness", an all-new LIVE improv show via Zoom, where you are in... Read more
"I’ve learned a lot being at home these last few months,” Wynonna reflects. “When there’s no touring, no concerts, no band, no lights, no action, all that’s left is you and the song. All tha... Read more
On the third Saturday of every month, Riot Improv collaborates with local storytellers in a unique mash-up to create hilarious improv comedy with a narrative twist! Riot Improv will create improv scen... Read more
Mariachi is thriving in our community -- our virtual Heartbeat of Mexico festival is merely bringing the celebration right to your homes. This virtual mariachi celebration is connecting professional a... Read more
You are invited to a live, group meditation session. We will be guiding the Mind Cleansing Meditation Method; designed to help you let go of the human mind which is the Karma, Habits and Body and find... Read more
The Dollface Dames-Southern California's Premier Cabaret company are taking their shows online. Tune in each show date for a new theme and cast. You'll never seen the same show twice. Bringing the siz... Read more
Our Virtual Visits are 75 minutes long. Calling all Food Lovers! Let's explore Barcelona's tasty side with local guide, Sonia Crespo! What time should you eat in Spain? Should you tip? What is typical... Read more
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!