Our household tends to gravitate towards action, horror and sci-fi movies, anything with chop-socky, zombies, Jean-Claude Van Damme, or monsters. It’s an eclectic palette. And kind of timeless (I sez…).
Most recently, we’ve been immersed in The Walking Dead, Sherlock and Firefly TV series. Plenty to like and keep us fixated in those shows, even though I’m deeply unimpressed with the many of the main characters in The Walking Dead and wouldn’t mind a few of them ending up as walker tacos.
Committing ourselves to a serious movie, one that takes a bit to draw us into the narrative, was something we hadn’t done for a while.
Even so, I found TTSS extremely hard to get into, despite the stellar cast and – on paper – riveting narrative of spies, double-crossing and clever secrets. The acting was considered and nuanced, and we’re given plenty of time to appreciate each glare and jibe.
The pacing of the entire film was gentle, even when nothing particularly gentle was happening on the screen. No doubt the film was beautifully made, with finely detailed recreations of the pedestrian and highly unattractive 1970s secret service offices and officers.
There was a meandering and pensive air about the film that one doesn’t find in many spy movies. I would suggest that’s because meandering and pensive doesn’t really engage very well and a spy movie audience needs to be engaged to stay with the sometimes twisting storyline and character flips. Well, I do, anyway.
Today, while lunching in some glorious April sunshine in St Kilda, I discussed the film with various family members. They were unimpressed and bewildered by the film in general. My sis was particularly incensed that the whole movie didn’t feel like it had ended properly before the credits rolled. The sheer weight of implied information left us feeling like we’d come up short in the insight stakes.
I know Book Boy is very keen on John Le Carre‘s books; I must admit to barely remembering reading one. I do remember hunting down his newly published books for my father, who was a big fan; he also loved Martin Cruz Smith and Robert Ludlum. These blockbusters made birthday and Christmas presents very easy. Because they were my father’s favourite kinds of books, I’ve always had a soft spot for them, even though I’ve read no Cruz Smith and only one Ludlum (I think).
Having found myself at sea with the film, however, I’m contemplating reading the book. Maybe it will provide the plot details that will allow some narrative lightbulbs to flare. I’m not big on spy novels per se, even though I did like reading Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche (Stephanie Merritt’s review in The Guardian captures the reasons why I liked it, as someone who has watched many Bond movies but hasn’t necessarily read Ian Fleming).
I never thought I’d find a movie that starred Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, and John Hurt disappointing, but there it is.