Today's Suggestion Is A Dark, Stylish, And Wonderfully Well-Crafted Puzzle Box

When Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's film adaptation of the legendary John le Carré's legendary "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" was set for release in 2011, I was intrigued. Partially, it was because I loved the source material. And partially, it was because I'd been pretty much blown away by Alfredson's Let The Right One In, and I was fascinated by the idea of taking that film's stylish environment and creeping sense of dread and applying it to a spy thriller.

Mostly, though, I was intrigued because the cast was absolutely fantastic: Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Ciarán Hinds. Oh, and Gary Oldman, whose role as George Smiley was nominated for an Oscar for Best Acting Performance Oscar and who deserved every accolade he received. (He's not flashy, but he's brilliant. Much like the film itself, actually.)

After its release, "word on the street" was that it was sort of slow-moving and confusing, so I lost a bit of my enthusiasm. And that's a shame, because when I eventually saw it (a couple of years later), I realized it wasn't slow-moving, it was slow-burning -- an entirely different kind of thing that slow-moving, and one that I very much love in a film. I also realized that it wasn't confusing; it was complicated. And it was twisty. Both of which meant you couldn't really figure out what was going on until the end. With a bit of attention, though -- OK, quite a bit of attention -- it all comes together beautifully at the end. (Although "beautifully" might not be quite the right word; a definite downer, this. But I like downers, especially if they're smart and oozing with atmosphere and meticulously crafted and acted.)

When push comes to shove, though, Oldman's the chief take-away. He really is stunning. So if you're in the mood for a mature, dark (bleak, even), unconventional, complex, and stylish thriller, you're in luck. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is currently streaming on NETFLIX INSTANT.

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6.
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