There were four of us. I, the first, had read the book, seen the BBC television series, listened to the audio book, and heard the BBC radio series, so I already knew what was going on. The second said, “that was really complicated”. The third said, ” I didn’t understand any of it”. The fourth said, “That’s the most boring film I’ve ever seen.”
I understand the reactions. The film captured the mood of Le Carre’s novel, the photography was evocative, the editing well paced. Gary Oldman (Smiley), Benedict Cumberbatch (Guillam) and Tom Hardy (Ricky Tarr)were excellent but the identity and motivation of the rest of the characters were never satisfactorily established; nor were the elements of the plot. In the end, the sum of the film added up to no more than random scenes from the novel shuffled into an incoherent order, the victim of attempting to distill 400 pages of complex plotting, character development and social observation into 127 minutes.