Benedict Cumberbatch has not slowed down in pumping up his resume since last award season, when he was part an ensemble of not just one, or two, but three Academy Award-nominated films (12 Years a Slave, August: Osage County, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug). This award season sees nothing less of his efforts. In Morton Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch lives up to all the hype that he is, and the humble man will only focus on the story of Alan Turing in the film circuits while Harvey Weinstein make a bid for his Oscar nomination (which will come on the heels of his already nominated SAG and Golden Globes Awards).
Cumberbatch’s performance as Alan Turing is incredibly captivating, where he must have gotten lots of practice as a closed off genius with social discrepancies from his performances as Sherlock. Cumberbatch melts into his role and becomes completely transformative as Turing, all the way down to the stutter and articulated details of speech and mannerisms. With an already compelling storyline, his performance is equally (if not more) compelling as we not only follow his efforts at cracking the Nazi’s Enigma Code, but also as he tries to figure himself out with his own imitation game.
The films narrative and characters are nothing short of extraordinary, however from a viewership standpoint, I was not a fan of the editing. I understand the use of the parallel story lines unfolding in different decades simultaneously, but a lot of the scenes and sequences just felt unnecessary. Yes it gives us more insights into Turing as a character, but those could have all been easily achieved with dialogue as well. I think the biggest flaw with the editing is that first off, 2 of the parallel timelines are too close to each other, and can very easily become confusing as to what timeline/which story you’re following. Secondly, we often cut away at certain fairly interesting parts of the main narrative, which is frankly quite annoying and takes one out of the story. The flashbacks of Turing’s youth seem to almost be a very apparent attempt to say to the audience, “here comes the part that we want you to take note of so you can follow the story along” – it’s true, the audiences do not, for the most part, appreciate being treated like children, and would like to figure certain things out on their own instead of being pointed to it.
I’m pretty sure there were a lot of things that could have been cut out. Certain parts of the flashforward with the police was definitely also not super necessary (or altogether interesting), but at least it was somewhat more compelling due to the suspense that was being held (we assume his secret is about one thing, but it’s actually something else entirely).
Overall I would recommend it for the sake of tapping into one of Britain’s best kept secret, and for the stellar performances given by the cast. In my personal opinion, the film could have been edited in a different way that would serve to make the main narrative much stronger, but that aside, I think it would be a shame to pass up one of this season’s best performance.