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One high functioning autistic gay man finds himself becoming the hero no one expected him to be.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
Since childhood, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch & Alex Lawther) had a greater ability with understanding math and puzzles than human communication. Making it so friends were few, and those who understood his eccentricities were ever fewer. However, upon World War II Alan found himself a part of a project to help end the war. Sadly for him though, even after the war was over, he found himself a part of a new battle. One in which his sexuality was the enemy and the world he lived in his adversary.
For me, this was one of the films I was more so curious to see due to the person it was based off of than the actors. If only because, while a fan of Keira Knightley, and familiar with Allen Leech and Mark Strong, I can’t say the name Benedict Cumberbatch is a draw. However, I can fully understand why he is nominated for an Academy Award after seeing this film. For while there were no tears, and he certainly didn’t get me amped like J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller did in Whiplash, I felt reminded that sometimes a good performance doesn’t require that.
Cumberbatch brings this odd, quiet person to life, and allows us to experience all of Turing’s eccentricities without it being made comical or overdone. Then, adding on Turing seeming autistic, and being gay, and the movie exploring that, and you do feel, by the movie’s end, that Cumberbatch was allowed to express Turing as more than meets the eye. Meaning, Cumberbatch was given the opportunity to show Turing as more than a mathematician, as more than a gay man, and more than someone possibly dealing with autism. He was allowed to show a full-fledged human being who was complicated and brilliant.
Now, as for the story and rest of the cast, I rarely mention the younger version of the leads since they really don’t provide much. However, Lawther as Turing in his younger years help provide the touching parts dealing with Turing’s homosexuality. Making it so, despite the film splitting things between the younger years, later years, and during World War II, things are fluid and come together quite well.
Leading to us talking about the co-stars, of which only Keira Knightley really shines. If only because, outside of Turing’s crush Christopher (Jack Bannon), we see her character as the only one who can decode Turing. Thus allowing us to see more than this mathematician, and understand the difficulties of Turing’s possible autism. For while Christopher was accepting, Knightley’s character Joan Clarke was understanding, and help translate for Alan and bring his team on his side. Making her character, and performance, invaluable.
When it comes to issues, I will admit I wished we got to see more of Turing’s post-WWII years, if only because Cumberbatch didn’t get to really have much time to tend to that part of Turing’s life. Also, I wished there was a stronger sense of urgency during the WWII portion of the film. For while we see bombings happening to London, and some pressure on Turing and his team, it does sometimes feel like Turing and co. were perhaps sometimes forgotten and left to their own devices.
Also, a part of me wished the supporting cast members were a bit stronger. For while, I’m sure, the name recognition of Knightley led her to having a beefier part, I do feel the rest of the boys of Turing’s team could have used a bit more of a boost as well. If not perhaps better actors.
Overall: TV Viewing
While everyone involved certainly puts on a fine performance, and you are left with enough information to have a slight grasp on why Turing is important, this isn’t the type of film which must be seen. It doesn’t have any sort of awe-striking performances, it doesn’t go too deep into any topic to really give you a full feel of things, and while I adored Lawther’s part in this, again I don’t feel there is anything here to justify even a matinee ticket cost. It just sets out what films should do and doesn’t try to really be exemplary in anyway. Hence the TV Viewing label.