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Movie Review

'Imitation Game' Lacks Focus, But Is Still Outstanding

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The Imitation Game got top ratings from the two people I talked to in the lobby, but to me it seemed overburdened with subthemes and lacking a central spine.

The title suggests that the main emphasis is on the deciphering of the German Enigma code in World War II, but the homosexuality of the chief decipherer, Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, gets at least as much screen time, especially at the end, which is structurally weak and dilutes dramatic effect. At least the material on Turing's school life could have been left out to allow more time for the more relevant topic of his problems relating to his colleagues on the deciphering team, and his relationship with Keira Knightley should have been more clearly developed.

Thankfully, the filmmakers did not take time to explain how the computer worked, which I suspect few people needed information about when maybe half the audience was carrying computers in their pockets that make the real Turing device look like an adding machine.

And Charles Dance's military boss surely didn't have to be such a mindless martinet. The military story could have used more detail.

But all these quibbles aside, The Imitation Game has a lot to offer. It is frightening to think how much we almost lost to homophobia even in time of war, and there are some striking ironies regarding rewards for work that has to be kept secret, as well as the price some people have to pay for doing such work under any circumstances.

Except for Charles Dance, who is betrayed by the script, everybody performs well, and Cumberbatch is outstanding as a man whose social ineptness almost overcomes his genius, and who never improves much in that regard. He's an unusual hero in an unusual-- and unusually good-- movie.