Yet another eccentric English genius

Another film about an English eccentric, this one about a hundred years after William Turner. I must confess that I haven’t yet come across a single person I know who liked Mr. Turner. It seems to me there are an awful lot of people who go to the cinema, who seem to think that the central character must be of noble character, stirling virtue, and personally likeable. Or perhaps they are looking for a simple plot, along the lines of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy meets girl again just before the credits but immediately after a fifteen minute car chase. I will only say that if you have seen St. Vincent and you liked it, you should ignore any advice I might give you about going to the movies.

The film under review this time is The Imitation Game (Rotten Tomatoes, critics 89% and the audience 95%; IMDb 8.4). Based on a true story, and therefore, of course, almost certainly false at every moment of drama in the plot, it was still fun and engaging. And although filled with many modern pieties, put on display to flatter the moral vanity of the audience, I nevertheless found none of it cloying or in the way of the plot. The story is based around the life of Alan Turing, about whom I knew about as much as I knew about Turner. It provided interesting detail and a rounded human story, embedded in the drama surrounding the winning of the war against the Nazis. Like Turner, Turing was a genius, driven by his obsessions. Unlike Turner, it seems, it is a film that is likely to generate more sympathy for the central character.

The background of most of the film is the effort required to break the Enigma code. Fascinating to see the effort up on screen. I don’t know how much of the drama shown was particularly accurate, but it didn’t worry me all that much either. It drove the story along, neatly structured around flashbacks and flash forwards. I have been to Bletchley Park and spent a very full day there a couple of years ago. If you are ever in the vicinity, it is well worth your time. In the meantime until you do get there yourself, this is a film likely to keep you satisfied, although I am a bit sore given all the flak I have been getting from people to whom I have recommended Mr. Turner, which, by the way, is a recommendation I completely stand by still.

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