this last night. That it was playing in our area's one and only art house rather than one of the 40-odd screens of multiplexity we have nearby is an indictment of this country in this century: there's nothing particularly artsy, off-putting, or weird about this movie. It's just made for grown-ups. And it's not in 3-fucking-D.
What it is, is a thoughtful, subtextful, perfectly poised film that thinks about the Cold War, about ideologies and aesthetics, about history and politics, and about personality repression. Okay, so I've never read any John LeCarré, and I never saw the miniseries of this, so: this is all I know about it. But it does a better job than anything else I've seen or read of capturing the paranoia, the cynicism, the soul-twisting compromises, of the intelligence racket, and by extension of the whole Cold War era. If you lived through it in America (and I came up during it), you know that.
This is what I mean. Walking out of the theater, Mrs. Sgt. T pointed out to me that you can read the final scene, Smiley alone in the soundproof room, triumphant, as meaning that he was the mole all along. Like I say, I've never read this; I gather that might be heresy from a standpoint of the books. But she's right: this movie can be read that way. Everything makes just as much sense if you assume Smiley is the mole as it does if you assume he isn't. And that's the emotional, philosophical, artistic truth of spy fiction.
And yes, Gary Oldman's performance is amazing.