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Film Review: The Imitation Game (2014)

In The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch gives another magnificent performance as a socially inept genius, but this time as a man who desires to fit in and be understood and accepted but can’t, which is in great contrast to the version of Sherlock Holmes he portrays in the eponymous hit BBC television show who rarely deigns to make himself seem like a regular man.

The many personal sacrifices and the great secrets that were made in the war effort and, until recent years, hidden from public knowledge are revealed in the film. The efforts of a small group of British academic minds, led by Turing, who are tasked with breaking the infamous German Enigma code, unfold along with the messy and difficult personal lives that these figures led, from a young man who must make a huge personal sacrifice for the Allied cause, to a woman who must choose between living a era-suitable life in pursuit of a husband and home or using her formidable mathematical skills to help save her country. These stories are, however, not the main focus of the film. The life of Alan Turing, from that of a shy schoolboy to an obsessive shut-in after the war, reveals shades of a more complicated life, full of secrets and loneliness. Turing cracks the code by building a computer with the Rosebud-esque name of Christopher, but must also deal with the militant pressures and social mores of working with a number of strong-headed historical figures also at Bletchley.

Cumberbatch is supported by a sterling cast of British actors from Keira Knightly, whom Cumberbatch worked with previously in the film adaptation of Atonement (2007), Matthew Goode, Allen Leech of TV’s Downton Abbey fame, Mark Strong, and Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance.

As glossy, moving, and grand in scope as any blockbuster film about WWII, but with a surprisingly fresh angle, viewers of The Imitation Game will almost certainly learn something new about Western history as well as discovering the life of enigmatic, mathematical genius Alan Turing, inventor of the modern-day computer. After all, where would Benedict “The Internet’s Boyfriend” Cumberbatch be without him? This film is definitely a must-see this year and certain to get Oscar-nominated as well (fingers crossed, Cumberbatch fans!)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Christophers or Enigma machines.

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