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Now showing at Cineworld Cheltenham The Brewery, Oxford Passage, off St Marg,Cheltenham,Gloucestershire GL50 4EF 0871 200 2000

  • Get On Up
  • Interstellar
  • Lucy
  • My Old Lady
  • Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!
  • The Homesman
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1
  • The Imitation Game

Get On Up 3 stars

movie title

As a boy, James Brown witnesses violent clashes between his parents, which results in his mother Susie walking out. James's hot-headed father Joe delivers the boy into the care of Aunt Honey, who runs a brothel. Under her tutelage, he attends church and develops his passion for music in the choir, before meeting fellow singer Bobby Byrd, who becomes his best friend. They form a rhythm and blues vocal group called The Famous Flames and fame and fortune beckon.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Musical
  • CastDan Aykroyd, Nelsan Ellis, Chadwick Boseman, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, Lennie James, Viola Davis.
  • DirectorTate Taylor.
  • WriterJohn-Henry Butterworth, Jez Butterworth.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration139 mins
  • Official sitewww.getonupmovie.com
  • Release21/11/2014

T'is the season to be funky. Get On Up is a handsome biopic directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), which charts the rise of soul brother James Brown against a backdrop of civil unrest. Thirty-two year-old rising star Chadwick Boseman achieves a startling transformation to convincingly portray the musical legend across five decades that defined the face of multi-cultural America.

As a boy growing up in 1940s South Carolina, James (Jordan and Jamarion Scott) witnesses violent clashes between his parents. Consequently, his battered mother (Viola Davis) walks out, leaving James with his hotheaded father (Lennie James). The old man delivers the boy into the care of Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer), who runs a brothel.

Under her tutelage, James (now played by Boseman) attends church and develops his passion for music in the choir, before meeting Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis). They form a rhythm and blues vocal group called The Famous Flames and sign to King Records, releasing their first single "Please Please Please" in 1956.

Ben Bart (Dan Aykroyd) becomes James' manager and pushes the flamboyant showman to the fore at the expense of the other members of the group.

Get On Up is reminiscent of the Oscar-winning 2004 film Ray, which netted Jamie Foxx a golden statuette for his portrayal of rhythm and blues legend Ray Charles. Both films are conventional biopics and are selective about the episodes they immortalise of their singers' turbulent lives.

In the case of Taylor's film, we are treated to historical footnotes about Brown's well documented social and political activism, including his 1968 concert at Boston Garden following Martin Luther King's assassination and a visit to Vietnam to support US troops.

Jez and John-Henry Butterworth's fragmented script feels emotionally underpowered. However, concert sequences are electrifying including a recreation of a 1971 gig in Paris that sees Brown whip the audience into a frenzy with "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" and "Super Bad".

Boseman is super good, capturing the impetuosity and unerring self-belief of the Godfather of Soul from age 16 to 60. Three hours in a make-up chair to apply full-body prosthetics and a bouffant hair-piece aids the actor's stunning metamorphosis for Brown's later years, when the cranky old coot, dressed in a natty green velour tracksuit, infamously instigates a police car chase following a shotgun altercation with a woman who used his private bathroom.

Costumes and wigs would be superfluous without Boseman's startling ability to capture every facet of Brown's personality from the raspy voice and cool cat swagger to his fleet-footed shuffles on stage.

Aside from Ellis' strong turn as best friend Bobby Byrd, supporting performances are largely overpowered by Boseman's dazzling theatrics. On celluloid as in life, Brown refuses to be upstaged.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

Interstellar 4 stars

movie title

Planet earth is slowly dying. Mankind looks to the stars for a new planet to colonise. When scientists discover a wormhole that should allow a spacecraft to travel beyond the galaxy into the unknown, doting father Cooper bids farewell to his son Tom and daughter Murph to lead an exploratory mission in search of a new home. Accompanied by fellow explorers Brand, Doyle and Romilly, Cooper undertakes the most important mission in human history.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastMatthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, Sir Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn.
  • DirectorChristopher Nolan.
  • WriterChristopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration164 mins
  • Official sitewww.interstellarmovie.com/index-intl.php
  • Release07/11/2014

Writer-director Christopher Nolan shoots for the stars with a futuristic thriller, co-written with his brother Jonathan, about mankind's search beyond this galaxy for a new home to replace a dying planet earth. Epic in scope and wildly ambitious, Interstellar doesn't quite achieve its bold vision of a love story between a father and daughter set against the vast backdrop of mankind's final roll of the dice to avoid extinction.

However, even when this grand futuristic adventure malfunctions, it's a deeply engrossing meditation on the ties that bind and the endurance of those emotional bonds across space and time.

Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema have captured some of the most breathtaking vistas including our first glimpses of a black hole or wormhole on large-format IMAX film.

These sequences pack a mighty visual punch and powerfully convey how tiny and seemingly insignificant we are on our third rock from the sun. Composer Hans Zimmer, who collaborated with the London-born director on The Dark Knight trilogy, provides another bombastic orchestral score to complement the majestic imagery.

Planet earth is dying: great dust clouds sweep across agricultural plains, ruining crops and making it impossible to breathe comfortably without face masks. "We used to look up and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt," laments Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former test pilot, who toils the parched soil with his 15-year-old son Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and 10-year-old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy).

Cooper answers a call from Professor Brand (Michael Caine) to lead a mission to locate a new planet capable of sustaining human life. "We're not meant to save the world. We're meant to leave it," explains Brand, whose scientist daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) will be part of the four-strong crew along with astrophysicist Romilly (David Gyasi) and pilot Doyle (Wes Bentley).

Leaving his brood in the care of his father-in-law (John Lithgow), Cooper undertakes the most important mission in human history, knowing that failure would mean certain death for the people he loves.

Interstellar retains a tight focus on the characters without sacrificing the adrenaline-pumping thrills that fans expect from director Nolan. Two talking military machines called TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE are a marvel of mechanical puppeteering and inject much needed humour.

"I have a discretion setting," deadpans TARS in response to a request from Cooper to disclose sensitive information. Oscar winners McConaughey and Hathaway add emotional heft to their embattled astronauts, wringing out tears after Amelia sternly warns Cooper: "You might have to choose between seeing your children again and saving the human race."

A couple of dense, wordy philosophical discussions about gravity and love orbit the moon of unintentional hilarity but thankfully, Nolan avoids the crash and burn in the nick of time.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

Lucy 3 stars

movie title

American twenty-something Lucy is kidnapped by Korean mob boss Mr Jang and forced to work as a drugs mule, carrying a consignment of a valuable synthetic drug called CPH4 sewn into her stomach. During her captivity, Lucy gets into a fight and one of her captors kicks her in the stomach, releasing CPH4 into her system. The drug significantly increases her physical and mental abilities, unleashing telepathic and telekinetic powers.

  • GenreAction, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastMorgan Freeman, Scarlett Johansson, Amr Waked, Choi Min-sik, Julian Rhind-Tutt.
  • DirectorLuc Besson.
  • WriterLuc Besson.
  • CountryFr
  • Duration89 mins
  • Official sitewww.lucymovie.co.uk
  • Release22/08/2014

Derriere-numbingly long films may be all the rage but at a lean 89 minutes, Lucy, the new action thriller from Luc Besson, is all the better for bucking this Hollywood trend. And with a kidnapping, killing sprees and questionable drugs thrown into the fray, there's certainly enough in that hour and a half to halt you from slipping out of the cinema.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a carefree student living in Taiwan, who is tricked by her new boyfriend Richard into doing his dirty work and carrying a briefcase, jam-packed with potent new drugs, into a hotel for him.

But there's no time for pleasantries here and before the concierge has greeted Lucy, Richard has been dispatched and Lucy is held hostage by the neighbourhood's merciless mob of local drug lords headed up by the unsparing Mr Jang (Choi Min-sik).

Waking up, Lucy discovers that the mob has taken the liberty of surgically implanting thousand of pounds worth of a deadly blue drug, CPH4, which increases the user's brain capacity, into her stomach. And more than that, if the bright blue crystals leak, it will kill her. But leak it does and Lucy, who is sent across the world as a drug mule, soon finds her brain working on disturbing new levels, signposted in the film with frequent updates on the percentage of brain capacity she's using.

As well as being hell-bent on exacting revenge on the mobsters, Lucy also busies herself by tracking down the eminent professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) in Paris who has spent decades researching the brain's potential.

In a deft twist to Johansson's role as a human-like operating system in Spike Jonze's Her, Lucy sees the actress' voice take on a lifeless tone, shedding personality and lightness as her brain's potential expands. Much has been made of the film's neurological theory not stacking up, but scientific soundness isn't the mission here - entertainment is.

And while there are some rather odd moments - the flashes to a prehistoric Lucy, the strained conversation Lucy has with her mum and the missed opportunity to kill Mr Jang while she can - Lucy is nevertheless a punchy film, which demands your attention every minute of the way.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

My Old Lady 3 stars

movie title

Mathias Gold abandons New York in dire financial straits bound for the French capital, where he intends to sell the apartment he has just inherited from his estranged father. Wandering around the extremely desirable abode, Mathias is shocked to find an old lady called Mathilde Girard living in the apartment with her spiky daughter Chloe. It transpires that Mathias cannot sell the apartment until Mathilde dies because of an ancient property rule of "viager".

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastKristin Scott Thomas, Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith.
  • DirectorIsrael Horovitz.
  • WriterIsrael Horovitz.
  • CountryUK/Fr/US
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official site
  • Release21/11/2014 (selected cinemas)

Draconian French property law forces a fifty-something bachelor to renovate his plans for a financially stable future in Israel Horovitz's entertaining character study. Adapted by the writer-director from his own stage play, My Old Lady brings together strangers from opposite sides of the world and thrusts them together in a des res Parisian apartment.

The subsequent clash of personalities unlocks painful family secrets and salves deep wounds that have been festering for years. Savvy casting of Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas as the buyer and sellers in this comedy of manners is better than the film deserves.

The actors elevate a solid if unremarkable script, adding warmth, spikiness and roughly hewn charm to their hastily sketched characters as the plot engineers a couple of predictable twists.

Smith is in her element, armed with a fine array of withering putdowns that would surely meet the approval of the Dowager Countess, her imperious matriarch in Downton Abbey. "Englishness is so obvious," she opines at one point. So are some of Horovitz's intentions.

Mathias Gold (Kline) abandons New York in financial straits, bound for the French capital where he intends to sell an apartment he has just inherited from his estranged father. Wandering from room to room, Mathias is shocked to find a 92-year-old lady called Mathilde Girard (Smith) living in the apartment with her daughter Chloe (Scott Thomas).

It transpires that Mathias cannot sell the apartment until Mathilde, the sitting tenant, dies because of an ancient property rule of "viager", which also stipulates that he must pay her a monthly fee of 2,400 Euros. Unable to return to America, Mathias takes up residence in the apartment with the women and spies on Chloe and her current beau (Stephane De Groot).

The penniless American secretly sells off some of the contents to raise the money for Mathilde's fees. "How did you get to 57 and 11 months and have so little to show for it?" she asks with genuine bewilderment. As Mathias delves into his father's past, he discovers deep personal ties to the Girards that alter his desire to see Mathilde six feet under.

My Old Lady doesn't stray too far from its stage origins, unfolding largely as static conversations within different rooms of the apartment. Kline and Thomas are an attractive pairing while Smith trots out her bon mots with expert comic timing and a twinkle in her eye. "Precision is the key to long life. Precision... and wine!" she trills.

Horovitz keeps the tone brisk and light, even when skeletons are tumbling out of the family closet with alarming frequency.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! 1 stars

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Mrs Keen, the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd to the fold. On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie. Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance
  • CastCatherine Tate, Adam Garcia, Celia Imrie, Marc Wootton, Lauren Hobbs, Martin Clunes.
  • DirectorDebbie Isitt.
  • WriterDebbie Isitt.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/NativityFilm
  • Release14/11/2014

A couple of years ago, my inquisitive nephew - then six years old - asked what happens to children who are consigned to Father Christmas' naughty list. I told him that children who misbehave don't get any presents on Christmas Day and must spend the following 12 months being extra good. I know now that I was wrong.

Mischievous scamps on the naughty list will be punished by spending 110 minutes in the company of Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!. There are elements of this shambolic third instalment of writer-director Debbie Isitt's improvised festive fables that my little nephew might enjoy: flatulence, dollops of donkey dung and a gurning man-child dressed in an oversized animal costume.

However, no amount of wrapping can disguise an early Christmas turkey, overstuffed with sickly sentiment, mawkish musical sequences and gargantuan leaps of logic. It's a crying, snivelling shame: the original Nativity!, released in 2009, was an unabashed delight that has become an annual treat in my tinsel-laden household.

This third and hopefully final chapter is a nightmare before Christmas. Mrs Keen (Celia Imrie), the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes) to the fold to whip the pupils into shape ahead of an Ofsted inspection.

On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren (Lauren Hobbs) or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie (Catherine Tate).

Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory by visiting favourite haunts from his childhood and participating in a flash mob competition in London.

Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Sophie's old flame, arrogant flash mob guru Bradley Finch (Adam Garcia), worms his way back into her brittle affections with help from her parents (Duncan Preston, Susie Blake), brother (Ralf Little) and bridesmaid (Niky Wardley).

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! is possibly the worst film I've seen this year. The script's definition of a flash mob is extremely loose, some of the children at St Bernadette's look too old to attend primary school, several New York scenes have clearly been shot closer to home with British actors at odds with the accent and Mr Poppy is a major irritation rather than a joyous source of giggles.

Performances are as wooden as a Norwegian spruce and the song and dance numbers are unevenly lip-synced. Characters behave without melodic rhyme or reason. Sophie's brother inexplicably vows to help slimeball Bradley win back Sophie, then sabotages the nefarious plan in the next breath.

To answer the over-punctuated question in the film's title: with regret, dude, he's at the knacker's yard dragging the entire cast and crew with him.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

The Homesman 3 stars

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Mary Bee Cuddy owns a ranch and a sizable plot of land in 1850s Nebraska, where she is an active member of her close-knit community. Three local women - Arabella Sours, Theoline Belknap and Gro Svendsen - show signs of insanity and Reverend Alfred Dowd proposes that one of their husbands should take the wives to Iowa to a home run by Altha Carter. When the men fail to get behind the plan, Cuddy volunteers for the dangerous mission.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Western
  • CastTommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Hailee Steinfeld, Meryl Streep, Miranda Otto.
  • DirectorTommy Lee Jones.
  • WriterTommy Lee Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald, Wesley Oliver.
  • CountryFr/US
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/TheHomesmanMovie
  • Release21/11/2014

A frontier woman's work is never done in Tommy Lee Jones' bleak and compelling feminist western. Not only does a mid-19th century miss have to cook and clean, she is also expected to pretty herself to attract a surly suitor to waltz her down the aisle in a society where men and pistols hold sway.

In the case of The Homesman's unconventional, spunky heroine, she also has to till the land, manage finances and compensate for a town full of cowardly, incompetent husbands, who put their own needs ahead of the women by their side.

Based on the novel of the same name by Glendon Swarthout, Jones' film trots through the parched prairies and rolling hills of the 1850s Midwest in the company of two unlikely saviours. One is a middle-aged spinster, whose grit, resolve and straight-talking principles mark her as a rebel of her sex; the other is a grizzled claim jumper of ambiguous intent, who narrowly avoids swinging by his neck.

In a pleasing subversion of gender and genre stereotypes, it's women who drive the narrative, who act rather than react, and ultimately leave an indelible mark on our heart.

Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) owns a ranch and a sizeable plot of land on the outskirts of a close-knit Nebraska community. Suitors repeatedly reject her because they consider her ugly but Cuddy continues to plough her own furrow.

Three local women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) show signs of insanity and Reverend Alfred Dowd (John Lithgow) proposes that one of the husbands should take the wives to a mission in Iowa run by Altha Carter (Meryl Streep). When the gutless spouses fail to get behind the plan, Cuddy volunteers to drive the wagon instead.

"You're as good a man as any man hereabouts," Reverend Dowd compliments her. En route, Cuddy rescues a claim jumper called George Briggs (Jones) from hanging on condition that he helps escort the three women to the Missouri River.

The unlikely travelling companions head east, encountering a shady hotel proprietor (James Spader), a thieving cowboy (Tim Blake Nelson) and a young woman (Hailee Steinfeld) as yet unmarked by the lawlessness of the era.

The Homesman repeatedly takes risks with tone, pacing and plotting, some of which don't pay off, but Jones' gambles lasso our attention. Swank is breathtaking in a textured role that should be rewarded with an Oscar nomination next year, and she is strongly supported by the writer-director.

Jones doesn't shy away from the horrors faced by women, catalysed by nightmarish scenes of rape and infanticide. Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who galloped to Brokeback Mountain with Ang Lee, captures the stark, untamed beauty of the godforsaken land in stunning images that linger in the memory.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 4 stars

Katniss Everdeen barely survived the Third Quarter Quell and she gathers her strength in the company of her friends, architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee and the President of District 13, Alma Coin. The scent of rebellion is in the air and the people look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. However, Peeta has been captured by Snow and is being manipulated to quell the uprising.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastJennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci.
  • DirectorFrancis Lawrence.
  • WriterDanny Strong, Peter Craig.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehungergames.co.uk
  • Release20/11/2014

The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas by cleaving the final book in two.

This decision - driven as much by greed as artistic necessity - results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost completely devoid of the propulsive action sequences that distinguished the earlier films. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen, a pawn in the battle of wits between the money-rich Capitol and the impoverished Districts, remains a mesmerising constant.

She delivers another emotionally bruising performance, especially in early scenes when her battle-scarred teenager stares over the smouldering ruins of her beloved District 12, littered with charred skeletons of friends and neighbours who were incinerated as they fled.

This hellish vision brings Lawrence to her knees, unable to hold back racked sobs of pain. The floodgates open and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong take their time channelling her aching sense of loss into an all-consuming rage that will set the Capitol ablaze this time next year. "If we burn, you burn with us!" she bellows down a camera lens at President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We don't doubt it.

Katniss barely survived the Third Quarter Quell. Separated from fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone), who are being held in the Capitol, Katniss gathers her strength in a secret underground complex. Her allies include childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13 President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

The people of the Districts look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. "We're going to stoke the fire of this revolution that this Mockingjay started," growls Plutarch, commissioning a series of propaganda videos directed by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) with Katniss as the reluctant star. Meanwhile, Snow initiates his own forceful media campaign fronted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and a clearly disoriented Peeta.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict. It's a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity since Katniss and Peeta are separated but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous "girl on fire".

Effie's role is expanded from the book to bring some comic relief to the subterranean gloom. "Everything old can be made new again - like democracy!" she chirrups. Maybe so, but as Part 1 makes abundantly and agonisingly clear, you have to sacrifice innocent lives to sweep away the past.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

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The Imitation Game 4 stars

movie title

Socially awkward mathematician Alan Turing arrives at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston presides over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break the Enigma code. Turing ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke to the team. She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Gay, Thriller, War
  • CastKeira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard.
  • DirectorMorten Tyldum.
  • WriterGraham Moore.
  • CountryUK/US
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.theimitationgamemovie.com
  • Release14/11/2014

In December 2013, The Queen granted a posthumous royal pardon to Alan Turing. The London-born mathematician had been prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 - a criminal act at the time - and he undertook a treatment of chemical castration with oestrogen injections rather than serve time behind bars.

It was an undeservedly inglorious end for a brilliant man, who was instrumental in breaking the Enigma code and should have been feted by our battle-scarred nation as a hero. Based on a biography by Andrew Hodges, The Imitation Game relives that race against time to decipher German communications and bring the Second World War to a swift conclusion.

Morten Tyldum's masterful drama neither shies away from Turing's homosexuality nor lingers on it, framing nail-biting events at Bletchley Park with the mathematician's 1951 arrest in Manchester. "If you're not paying attention, you'll miss things," Turing teases us in voiceover.

Indeed, you'll miss impeccable production design, an unconventional yet touching romance, subterfuge and sterling performances including an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the socially awkward genius from Benedict Cumberbatch.

Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) sits in a police interrogation room with Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear), facing a charge of indecency with a 19-year-old unemployed man called Arnold Murray. "I think Turing's hiding something," Nick informs his Superintendent (Steven Waddington), who is keen to wrap up the conviction.

In flashback, we witness Alan's arrival at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) and Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) preside over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break Enigma.

Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) work alongside Turing, but he ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to the team.

She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

Punctuated by school day scenes of the young Turing (Alex Lawther) and his first love, an older boy called Christopher (Jack Bannon), The Imitation Game is a beautifully crafted tribute to a prodigy, whose invaluable contribution to the war effort was unjustly besmirched by bigotry.

Cumberbatch is mesmerising, trampling over the egos of fellow code breakers without any concern for their feelings as he vows to solve "the most difficult problem in the world". It's a tour-de-force portrayal, complemented by strong supporting performances from Knightley, Goode et al as the close-knit team who note, "God didn't win the war. We did."

The pivotal Eureka moment sets our pulses racing, heightened by Alexandre Desplat's exquisite orchestral score. Director Tyldum navigates the fractured chronology with clarity and flair, ensuring that his heart-rending film doesn't itself become a perplexing puzzle.

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Thursday 27th November 2014

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