Based on Alan Turing’s biography by Andrew Hodges, “The Imitation Game” has “award season” written all over it; a period piece recognizing one of history’s great mathematicians, a tale of an awkward and friendless outsider, a talented British cast, and fantastic costume design add up to a notable film this winter. Exposing Turing’s persecution and emotional suffering while admiring his genius, “The Imitation Game” continues to acknowledge his greatness only one year after he finally received a royal pardon for his arrest for being a homosexual. It is both an inspirational and tragic film honoring one of the world’s greatest minds.
“The Imitation Game” covers three points in Alan Turing’s life: his youth (portrayed by Alex Lawther) spent in a boys’ academy where he is bullied and his only friend is Christopher (Jack Bannon), the time he spends working on Enigma during World World II (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), and when he is arrested for indecency/homosexual acts one year before his death (also Cumberbatch). Most of the film focuses on Turing’s wartime effort working in secret with Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech), and a few others under leadership from MI-6 representative Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) and military man Commander Denniston (Charles Dance). Throughout his life, Alan is treated differently and doesn’t get along well with others because 1) he is bullied and 2) he is hiding his homosexuality. He eventually learns to make friends that support him for his sexuality and his ideas, mainly in creating a computer to break Enigma, the “unbreakable,” German, coded messaging.
Most anyone can enjoy “The Imitation Game” as it focuses on Turing’s war contributions, but fans of the television show “Sherlock” will especially enjoy the movie because there are many similarities between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing and his Sherlock Holmes; Turing’s awkwardness in social situations is often purposely comical as he demands others to be specific with their word choices, etc., much like Sherlock. The main difference, however, is that Turing is a fragile being struggling alone.
An inspiring watch, “The Imitation Game” relates the struggles of gays with the struggles of women for the time period. Supporting each other, Alan and Joan depict the frustrations of being different, of wanting more than the norm. Anyone who has ever been an outsider will connect with this heartening yet sad film, though it only grazes the surface of the characters’ challenges.
Rating for “The Imitation Game:” B
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“The Imitation Game” is playing at five theatres in Columbus: Drexel, Rave Polaris, Marcus Crosswoods, and AMC Lennox and Easton. For showtimes, click here.