Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It might be 2012, but from a political standpoint we should really remember the 1950’s.

Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyTo begin with, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is far too complex and occasionally confusing to qualify as a great movie. While it will not be nominated for an Oscar as best picture of the year, it remains psychologically enjoyable, and its stellar cast of supremely accomplished actors is at all times a delight to watch.

Put another way, if you like TV’s Mad Men, this is a movie you should not miss. It is safe to say that it is a recreation of the 1950’s, a time of booze, babes, boys and bullshit. While there is no Don Draper, it is filled with cheap whiskey and unfiltered cigarettes, thoughts worth remembering.

As for me, I remember Christmas Day in grade school when Father Victorian, our 300 pound Franciscan parish pastor, would go house to house to celebrate, knocking down several beers at each location. Everyone, and I mean nearly everyone, got loaded, and my God was it a delightfully funny time.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy tells the story of the discovery by British Secret Service of the unfortunate fact that the Russians had placed a mole in their employment. The Cold War was at its apex, and each side was dedicated to infiltrating the opponent.

Nobody in the employment of the British Secret Service was remotely perfect, and none of them cared. Having survived the garish onslaught of World War II, killing was a part of their job, as was the seduction of a pretty woman, even if she was the wife of a colleague.

Gary Oldman is superior as George Smiley, a reticent espionage chief called back into service to find the elusive mole. Laconic, detached and largely without apparent emotion, Mr. Oldman gives a riveting performance as a man dedicated to discovering the truth.

Additionally, his colleagues, many of whom are admitted suspects, are at the top of their game. The illustrious Toby Jones plays a British spy with a lousy sense of humor. If you are remotely unfamiliar with his past performances, hunt down his role as Truman Capote in Infamous (2006); his extraordinary contribution to the wonderful The Painted Veil (2006); his performance in Frost/Nixon (2008), where he played Swifty Lazar; his wonderful impersonation of Karl Rove in W (2008); and his contribution to the success of My Week with Marilyn this year.

Colin Firth has a small role as the obviously flawed and poisonous agent Bill Haydon. Anyone care to revisit last year when he was facing an Oscar award for his performance in The King’s Speech?

Ciaran Hinds and John Hurt also make significant contributions, and Mark Strong again excels as a possible villain, a role that he has long ago mastered. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the performances of two young men who come close to stealing the film.

Benedict Cumberbatch is sterling as Peter Guillam, Mr. Oldman’s loyal assistant. As a reminder, look for his future performance in the Star Trek sequel, which should be released next year.

But the character you will not forget is the incredible Tom Hardy as Percy Alleline, an agent haunted by a troubled past and a lost love. Mr. Hardy is a cosmic force, and you should really take a look at this year’s underrated Warrior where he gives a marvelous performance as the alienated youngest son of an alcoholic father played by Nick Nolte.

Director Thomas Alfredson, who previously brought us the wonderful adolescent vampire film Let the Right One In (2008), reminds us that we have lost something over the years by forgetting our history from the 1950’s. Most Americans were simply looking for a life where they could both work and enjoy themselves, and we seemed then to fully understand that we all lived in the same large boat.

Most Americans understood the value of having our Federal Government help out the average person as reflected by the enormously successful GI Bill and the fact that President Eisenhower spent billions on the construction of our national highway system. It is worth remembering that thousands of American men and women went to college at taxpayers’ expense, and tens of thousands more were employed by the government to assist in building highways.

While Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is true to the complicated story of Author John le Carre, it is worth the effort for you movie fans. Having said that, am I one of the few people who thinks that it would be nice for the National Republican Party to again embrace the value of our federal government, particularly when it comes to playing a role in the daily lives of the working class citizens of this country?