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January 27th, 2012

Movie Review - Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy

Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy

Starring: Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, David Dencik, Ciaran Hinds, Kathy Burke, Tom Hardy, Amanda Fairbank-Hines, Simon McBurney, and more.

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson Screenplay by: Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan Based on the Novel by: John le Carre Original Music by: Alberto Iglesias

Premise: A forcibly retired spy in the 70's is asked for one more task after it appears that what had been thought of as the paranoid delusions of the previous head of British Intelligence about a mole in their ranks appears to be a possibility after the man's passing. (Rated R)

Review: This film is a slow puzzle being put together from floating pieces of yarn or random dots. The trick is to figure out which dot is the right one, the correct starting point you need to connect the line for the next one and then the next - the most innocuous of things actually are clues to the whole. 

If you're sleepy or tired, that's not the time to see this movie. If you blink you might miss something important. Take a restroom break at your peril! Clues are everywhere, and some are incredibly subtle.

Tons of kudos to all the actors in this piece. A lot of information is gleamed from looks, a stumbled step, who finds what or not amusing. It was a lot of fun compiling all the information being provided to realize the motives and secrets laying about in the hunt for the mole. 

The film might not satisfy younger tastes as it is full of seemingly random scenes and builds at a slow pace. The few sections of violence are brutal though also mostly implied. The hunt is mostly mental rather than physical, each piece leading towards the next.

What was truly lovely in the plot was a tandem mission within the mission. One that despite seeming to be irrelevant and nothing but a distraction, actually meant more than imagined when seen in the whole. There is a ton of subtext -  another reason why you dare not blink. And it was marvelously shared. The scene at the small airport towards the end was chucked full of subtext from the moment Toby entered the car with Peter. Lovely. You'll leave the film flashing on little nuggets and getting new insight all the way home.

Two items that I found super interesting was how the fired head of the Circus (British Intelligence) was only ever referred to as Control. He even signed his dispatches as 'C'. The other was you never see the face of Ann. Also was fun watching the route within HQ of the sensitive data. So many little touches!

This is a film about the rewards of long term loyalty, trust, honor, of the impacts we make on other peoples's lives which could have far reaching impacts even from a short, casual meeting.

As for the title - it is a reference to the nicknames given to those who might be the mole. So truly it is Tinker, Taylor, Soldier.

If you like puzzles and mental spy games, this is for you!

Rating: 4 out of  5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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