TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY -A Review by Frank Mengarelli

“We are not so very different, you and I. We’ve both spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another.”

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is a film I have watched countless times, and a film I look forward to constantly revisiting. It’s easily one of my favorite films of recent years. It’s a simmering, taut film that is masterfully constructed with painstaking detail.


Tomas Alfredson creates a lived in world of spy v spy. Timelines are blurred, present day and the past intermingle throughout the duration of the film, and all we can do is absorb it. The cast is remarkable; each actor is laid upon Alfredson’s pallet, and he takes his time softly brushing each one across the screen.

Gary Oldman is in top form, giving his most low key performance as George Smiley, the master spy. Oldman spends a majority of the film silently lurking, watching, listening; stealthily seeking the traitor in their midst. Colin Firth cashes in on his career’s worth of affability, slyly charming his way throughout the film.


Alfredson, along with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoyteman and production designer Maria Djurkovic build a smoky and dreary world of moral ambiguity in which the characters hide in the shadows, and enter into a game that has already been resolved before it begins.

The film’s ending is as heartbreaking as it is rewarding, resolving just enough to satisfy the audience, but desperately leaving us wanting more. While certain events of the film are closed, there is so much more to be told. The beauty of the craftsmanship of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is that it shows us very little, yet tells us everything.

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