Mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) meets a girl at a bar while taking a break from trying to build a machine that can break a Nazi code. She may not be the genius that Turing is but she makes an off-hand remark that helps him see a problem that he’s been struggling with in a new way. He gets this crazy look in his eye and runs off without warning, leaving her wondering what she just said. She has just given Turing his Eureka moment.
I hate Eureka moments in movies and The Imitation Game has a few of them. Actually, there were a handful of scenes here and there that felt lazy and occasionally a little pandering. Worst of all though, they distract from what is overall a fantastic script.
Winner of the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, some have suggested The Imitation Game as the front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar. They may be on to something. Like The King’s Speech and Argo, there isn’t much special about it except that it’s a good story told very well with healthy doses of dramatic license taken to keep the truth from getting in the way of a good story.
The best reason to see The Imitation Game is Benedict Cumberbatch. Turing is a tough guy to get to know. At first, the film establishes only that he is brilliant at all things math and ignorant of most things social. He’s portrayed almost as a British Sheldon Cooper, hilariously misunderstanding statements that he takes too literally. He uses logic, not emotion, to guide him and at first it seems like he doesn’t feel much of anything. With time, and the more time he spends with new friend Joan Clarke (well played by Keira Knightley), Cumberbatch slowly lets us see a little compassion and lots of pain. By the end, we’re left with one of the year’s best performances and a genuinely heart-breaking ending.
Read another Asshole’s opinion of The Imitation Game.