Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt
Where most spy thrillers are noisy, loud affairs, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" opts for a different approach.
The latest adaptation of the John le Carré espionage novel, which was turned into a popular BBC miniseries in 1979, unfolds in an elliptical fashion, emphasizing subtle, sly character details at the expense of flashy, straightforward storytelling.
Filmmaker Tomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In") masters the nuances of the stuffy British tone.
Gary Oldman is terrific as George Smiley, a spy brought out of semi-retirement to find the Soviet mole at the top levels of the "Circus," a fictionalized MI6.
Some narrative clarity could have helped matters, making this an easier sit.
But "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is a masterpiece of production design, offering kaleidoscopic, symmetrical backgrounds that emphasize the disorienting nature of espionage.
At the same time, there's a strong sense of '70s period detail as well as the emotions brewing beneath the surface in this story of deep-rooted betrayal.