8:00 PM, 4th May, 2012
London, 1973. George Smiley (Oldman), a former MI6 agent sacked after a fiasco in Budapest resulted in the death of another agent, is recalled to service to root out a mole/double agent responsible for the very debacle that got him fired. The head of The Circus/MI6, known as 'Control' (Hurt), has assigned code names to the chief suspects: 'Tinker' (Toby Jones), 'Tailor' (Colin Firth), 'Soldier' (Ciarán Hinds) 'Poor Man' (David Dencik) and even Smiley himself is a suspect - 'Beggarman'.
Adapted from the well-loved John le Carré novel, and previously made into an iconic television mini-series starring Alec Guinness as Smiley, this is absorbing, intelligent, beautiful cinema of the highest order. Director Tomas Alfredson previously brought us Let The Right One In and, if you've seen that wonderful movie, you'll be pleased to know that he's made good on his potential and produced an even more gripping yarn here. Throw in some pedigree British actors and it all comes together as a complex, suspenseful masterpiece. There's a good chance you won't catch everything that happens when you first watch it (I didn't) but the film is so riveting and expertly handled that you will want to see it again to catch everything you missed (like I will be at this screening). One of THE must-see films of 2012!
10:23 PM, 4th May, 2012
The title character (Justin Quayle, played by Fiennes) isn't literally always gardening, although you get the feeling he'd spend all his time in his garden if he could. By career he's an English diplomat in Kenya. His wife Tessa (Weisz) seems an odd match for him: not really an establishment bone in her body; she's in Africa as a political activist engaged in stuff she doesn't really tell her husband about, and it looks as though they're drifting apart. When she's murdered - in what looks on the surface like a crime of passion - Justin's superiors expect him to quietly fade from the scene while they conduct the investigation. Instead he devotes everything, risking his career and then his life, to finding out who killed her.
Looked at from one angle, his enquiry becomes a quest to expose international corruption and evil in government and big business; looked at from another, it's an attempt to get closer to his wife now that it's too late.
Fernando Meirelles, who previously directed the Brazilian movie City of God and would later direct Blindness, does well in his only big film that isn't bone-wearyingly depressing: there's even an undercurrent of optimism. And there's something very moving about the second half of the husband's quest - almost as though he and his wife are being posthumously reconciled.