The Imitation Game

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

As I type, The Imitation Game is #209 of IMDB's Top 250 movies of all time. Nominated for eight Oscars, winning one. Don't get me wrong, it's OK. Even slightly better than OK. But…

It is based on the actual life of Alan Turing, ably played by Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch. It centers around his World War II work in Bletchley Park, heading the team that built the "Bombe", an electomechanical gizmo that broke the Nazi's "Enigma" encryption scheme. The movie also has scenes from Turing's early life as a bullied schoolboy, and from the early 1950's with the events leading up to his "outing" as a homosexual, conviction for indecency, and chemical castration. Ms. Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke, a Bletchley Park co-worker who was as close as Turing got to a female love interest.

The movie is eminently watchable, as Turing struggles with his co-workers, his superiors, and his own prickly personality to accomplish his decryption vision. Cumberbatch is no doubt a gifted actor, and I bet he could play something other than prickly gifted oddballs if given the chance.

Slate has a good article outlining how much the movie diverged from the true story of Turing and Bletchley Park. Unsurprisingly, a lot of things were changed or invented in the movie; that's just how it's done. It seemed to irritate me a bit more than usual, though.

There was a repeated line that took me right out of the movie, though:

"Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine."

This is one of those sappy "inspirational" quotes that might appear on a poster you can buy at Walmart for $5.98. Maybe with a kitten looking bravely at a big dog. I can't imagine a real person saying it in real life.

But it's repeated three times in this movie: once from young Turing's schoolboy crush to Alan, once from Alan to Joan, then from Joan back to Alan. I groaned a bit louder with each occurrence.