Alan Turing is a name known to many of us, particularly gay men, because he was a hero of World War II, perhaps the most important of them all, due to his breaking of the famous Enigma code which was used by the Nazis and changed daily to prevent its being deciphered. Some years back there was a fine British play that eventually came to Broadway -- Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore -- that starred a wonderful Derek Jacobi as Turing and told the tale of how the man managed to do this, at the same time as he struggled to hide, while still living as a homosexual in Britain (homosexuality was a criminal offense at the time).
THE IMITATION GAME, directed by Morten Tyldum (shown at right), with a screenplay by Graham Moore from the book by Andrew Hodges, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch (shown above, and below) as Turning. Mr. Cumberbatch is no stranger to playing odd roles -- Sherlock, Julian Assange, Khan in the most recent Star Trek (he even played Stephen Hawking in a TV movie a decade ago). Here, he beautifully nails Turing's strangeness (the man may have had some milder form of Autism such as Asperger Syndrome, which was never diagnosed back in that day), as well as his whip-smart intellect.
Alex Lawther) and its strong focus on the character of Joan Clarke, the woman who came to work with and for Turing as part of the the small group at Bletchley Park who were trying to crack the German code.
Keira Knightley (above), Ms Clarke takes on major importance in a number of ways -- as a woman pushing to be able to work at what she does best (we're in the 1940s and 50s, remember) and as a kind of significant other for Turing. Ms Knightley comes through as she always does, with grace and grit. She and Cumberbatch work off each other quite beautifully.
Charles Dance (above, right) as Turing's boss and bête noire; Matthew Goode (below, left) as the co-worker who initially loathes but finally admires this strange fellow; Mark Strong, (in bottom photo, center) impressive as his name, as an early MI5 member; and Allen Leech (below, right) and Matthew Beard (below, center) as other co-workers; and especially Rory Kinnear as the cop who suspects Turing of treason yet comes to regret his actions against the man.
The Weinstein Company and running 114 minutes -- opens this Friday in both New York City (at City Cinemas Paris Theater and the Angelika Film Center) and Los Angeles (at The Landmark and the Arclight Hollywood).