The Imitation Game

Smartly entertaining biopic on Alan Turing

While no one person can be credited with the invention of the computer, Alan Turing comes pretty close. The room-sized machine he built succeeded in breaking the Nazis’ Enigma code, thereby shortening WWII by as much as two years and saving thousands of lives.

But this unsung triumph on an unseen battlefront was leavened with an underlying tragedy brought about by his breaking of a different code: the petty, antediluvian social code of 1940s Britain. Arrested in 1952 for “gross indecency” (homosexuality), he committed suicide rather than continue with his debilitating court-ordered hormone therapy.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who it seems can do no wrong these days, puts in another Oscar-worthy performance, expressing, warts and all, the man’s genius and arrogance as well as his social clumsiness and loneliness. This biopic by Norway’s Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) is straightforward, unfussy and smartly entertaining. And kudos to first-time screenwriter Graham Moore for wisely not trying to explain the math, and distilling and streamlining events into a cinematically accessible whole without dumbing it down.

An oft-quoted line from the movie is, “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” Japanese title: Imitation Game: Enigma to Tensai Sugakusha no Himitsu. (114 min)