The story of Alan Turing, and his immeasurable contribution to modern society, is superbly adapted for the screen in The Imitation Game. Turing was the inventor of the first computer, a pivotal figure in the Allied victory of World War Two, and a dedicated British citizen. But instead of being lauded, showered with acclaim as duly deserved, he was regulated to the shadows and suffered a grave miscarriage of justice. Turing was a closeted homosexual in a time where that disposition carried tragic consequences. His inability to establish social relationships and arrogant personality only hastened his downfall. Turing has been vindicated in modern times, but it is vitally important that his story be told to truly understand his historical significance.
The Imitation Game opens at a secret convening of Britain's top mathematicians and code breakers. The German Enigma Code has proved dire for the Allies. Sinking ships and inflicting horrendous casualties through secret communication. The team's most promising member - Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), offends everyone with his raw personality and casual dismissal of his colleagues. Turing, to the great dismay of his superiors, convinces Winston Churchill that they must build a specialized machine to uncover the secret of the Enigma. The team embarks under his leadership and with great expense. Turing, in need of elite logisticians, puts a puzzle in the newspapers as a recruiting test. The resulting addition to the team - Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightley), causes shockwaves, as a woman would never have been considered for such a secret operation. Turing is convinced of her abilities, and along with a begrudging ally - Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode); they toil under extreme pressure to make a breakthrough.
The film looks at Turing during key points in his life; as a young boy (Alex Lawther) enamored with a classmate, during WW II, and the focus of a police investigation after the war. The police investigator (Rory Kinnear) is intrigued by the mysterious Turing. His inability to uncover any information of his wartime activities leads him to pry deeper into Turing's life. This is unfortunate, but it reflects the constant issue that plagues Turing; his social isolation and failure to connect with the people that care for him. This is particularly true in his relationship with Joan Clarke.
Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent in his portrayal of Alan Turing. Kiera Knightley is equally magnificent as Joan Clarke. The complexity of their friendship and collaboration is beautifully visualized on screen. Director Morton Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore use a soft touch to pencil in the edges of a deep connection in a dark time. A homosexual genius guiding a brilliant young woman against the backdrop of a savage conflict. This is heady stuff, handled like a delicate instrument. The Imitation Game is superbly acted and will undoubtedly be a force during award season.
The title of the film refers to Turing's 1951 test to gauge machine intelligence. A fantastic scene in the film has Turing explaining the concept of artificial intelligence, computing, while under police questioning. These concepts seem elementary today, but were revolutionary at the time. Turing was as much an enigma as the impossible German code he deciphered. The Imitation Game will hopefully enlighten the masses as to this man's titanic achievement - the computer, a device that permeates every facet of our modern lives.