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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Enthralling History
by Diana Saenger

Upon seeing the name of Benedict Cumberbatch suddenly popping up in this year’s awards season, some people may experience a “who?” moment.  But with a filmography that includes the much-talked-about The Imitation Game as well as work such as the “Sherlock” TV series, The Hobbit films, 13 Years a Slave, The War Horse and many more films, this actor boasts a fine acting career.

In The Imitation Game -- based on a true story -- Cumberbatch amazingly lets us see the many sides of Alan Turing during 1952 and prior during WWII. A mathematician and cryptanalyst, Turing became part of a Code Breakers team that worked on Germany's World War II Enigma machine and thus helped shorten the war. While the team including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard), Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and John Cairncross (Allen Leech) played an important part in breaking the code, Turning was credited with the most significant breakthroughs. 

The story begins with a shot of Turning sitting in a police department interrogation room. It then  returns to a time when Turning’s home was burglarized -- and he was not interested in a police investigation. On the way out, one of the officers hints he may just want to avoid probing since he might be a gay man. At that time in England homosexuality was illegal.

We then jump back to 1927. Fifteen-year-old Turning is attending school in Dorset, England. Because he’s shy and a bit awkward, he’s bullied. Christopher, another student, offers him advice on how to get along with the other students. He also teaches Turning cryptography and they become dear friends. When Christopher dies from a disease, Turning is devastated.

During WWII Turning is summoned to MI6 by those who have heard of his expertise in code breaking. They hope he’s the one to crack the Enigma machine, an encryption device central to the Nazis’ communication system, and to save the world from Hitler.

Turning joins a team of other code workers including Joan Clarke, a female the other men dismiss as not up to their skills. Turning, however, finds she performed better than all of the men on the test they took before being hired. Naturally, Turning welcomes Joan to the team.  

Drama, trauma and moments of lightheartedness ensue as this story unfolds. Based on Andrew Hodges’ biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, there isn’t a moment that didn’t keep me enthralled in this story. Actors portraying the code breakers all do a great job.

Benedict Cumberbatch has the talent to show viewers all sides of Alan Turning. He’s humble when asked to work for MI6, formidable when assuring doubters that he belongs on the Code Team, and extremely open when the chemistry between Turning and Joan sparks a proposal.

Screenwriter Graham Moore said about Cumberbatch’s performance, “His level of devotion to this character is a level of devotion that would rival Alan Turing himself."

The Imitation Game has been nominated for six Golden Globe awards, and other honors are sure to follow when the Academy Award nominations come out on January 15. Meanwhile, expect to be shocked and inspired by the aspects of history revealed in this fascinating film.

(Released by The Weinstein Company and rated "PG-13" for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.)

Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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