‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’: Betsy Sharkey’s film pick


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Sometimes there is a wonderful madness in the method, and so it is with the superb thrill of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ starring Gary Oldman.

Adapted from the dense counter-intelligence maze created by novelist John le Carre, the film begins with the discovery that there is a mole inside the British central intelligence agency, but unearthing him will come virtually devoid of the usual pyrotechnics. Instead, suspense builds like a low-grade fever just waiting to spike and do you in.


To solve a double-agent mystery, sometimes it helps to be on the outside, though Oldman’s top spy George Smiley isn’t really given a choice, unceremoniously ousted as he is in a mini-coup that also took out agency director Control, a terrific John Hurt.

Even better, director Tomas Alfredson understands the power of understatement for his lead actor. The quiet voice, a sideways glance, a raised brow: With those as his weapons of choice, Oldman creates a slow squeeze that proves deliciously deadly.


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-– Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo caption: Gary Oldman as agent George Smiley in the spy thriller ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.’ Credit: Jack English