I guess a lot of people didn’t dig this movie. I cannot be counted among them. That being stated, a few tweaks could have made this movie much clearer and more accessible.
Oh, yeah. Spoiler warning.
#1 – There’s a mole at the top level of the British Secret Service. Let’s all whisper about it.
This is a big deal. Worlds at risk. If you want me to give a damn about this, made it more evident why this is a problem.
#2 – Mark Strong as French teacher? Yeah, not a flashback.
In a story rife with flashbacks, showing a dude who just got shot gadding about England in a camper seems like… you know… the past. Confusing.
#3 – Smiley’s great triumph/tragedy is his devotion to and adoration of his wife. No, seriously. What, you didn’t get that from the loving look he gave her in that one flashback? Or in the half-sentence in the let’s-get-plowed-on-johnny-red-and-tell-stories scene?
Come on now. Yes, I imagine writing a taciturn character is a challenge. Yes, a few hints were dropped. Yes, I was watching closely. Give me a bit more here. Why do I care about this Smiley guy?
Stakes, clarity, and an engaging protagonist. These are some writing basics. Depart from them at your peril.