The life of Alan Turing was extraordinary – a genius decades ahead of his time, whose work cracking the Enigma code was instrumental in defeating the Nazis in the second World War, and whose subsequent studies into computer science essentially paved the way for the cornerstones of modern technology. One of the outstanding minds of his generation, his life and work were cut tragically short by the existing prejudices of the time he lived in, and if you’re reading these words it’s partly because of him. A high-profile film adaptation of his life has long been overdue, and now – perhaps spurred on by the official pardon given him by the UK government in 2013 – one of the most sought-after scripts in Hollywood (finishing top of the “Black List” in 2011) has finally been brought to life.

It’s in many ways a pretty straightforward biopic, but doesn’t suffer from this at all. Its focus is on character, obviously on one in particular, and it’s helped enormously in this regard by a suitably meticulous central performance. Benedict Cumberbatch has been looking for a role to cement his A-list reputation for a while now, and should do exactly that with a performance that plays to his strengths of finding humanity within quirkiness and eccentricity. He’s also impressively supported by Keira Knightley, who often struggles with being miscast but provides a very effective counterfoil here, as well as some much-needed oestrogen in what is otherwise something of a boys’ club (though the film itself draws attention to this).

Graham Moore’s script plays a little fast and loose with historical fact, but this is practically inevitable in order to distil so many discordant events into something approaching a relatable human story. He actually does a remarkable job of drawing many disparate elements of Turing’s life – his early schooldays, his later decline, his marriage, his arrest for indecency – into what amounts to an effective character portrait. This therefore becomes the perfect starting point to learn more about the man and the times he lived in, especially as there is so much more the film leaves out, and so much vicious prejudice sadly still alive today.

A long-overdue cinematic recognition of one of the 20th century's brightest minds10
Graham Moore's carefully-constructed screenplay9
Benedict Cumberbatch's breakthrough performance9
Keira Knightley giving her various unreasonable critics something to keep quiet about9
A jumping-off point to learn more about Turing and the time he lived in10
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
Bechdel Test Failures
  • They only talk about men
9Overall Score

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.