Friday, January 25, 2013

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Abstract Painting

Recently, there is one movie that has bothered me a lot because it disappointed me so much. I love John Le Carre spy novels and most of the adaptations of his books on the silver screen. Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy was one of my favorite books for a while, so I was really thrilled for its adaptation last year. It had an amazing cast, with Gary Oldman leading as George Smiley, and Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch supporting, among others. Not only that, but it’s such a great story- an amazing complex and deep espionage novel. It was this complexity which ruined the film, because you couldn’t cram everything into a two hour feature. So, while I enjoyed certain elements, I was certainly disappointed by the film overall.

 Still, there were so elements, like the cinematography, which I enjoyed. I loved how the camera would focus in on certain elements and use so interesting angles to help establish the mood of the piece.
And, of course, I also appreciated the glimpse of artwork that appears in the film.

In the story, one of the central characters, Bill Haydon, fancies himself to be the renaissance man of “the Circus” and considers himself to be a talented painter. Smiley admits that he is, in actuality, quite mediocre. One painting in particular plays a small part in the plot because it serves a reminder of Smiley’s unfaithful wife Ann. Bill painted and gave it to her, and it was during this interchange that Smiley discovers a key plot piece, as well as his wife’s treachery.  

After a long night at work, George walks in on Ann and Bill. Bill claims he was giving Ann a painting (she also claims to be an art lover) and makes excuses for his presence in Smiley’s home. Smiley, the quite, but observant, realizes what’s going on and says nothing, even prominently hanging the painting in his home. I assume he was trying to make his wife feel guilty, but instead, it’s later revealed that it only fills him with constant regret.
Abstract Art by Bill Haydon

It’s a very abstract piece, resembling an Abstract Expressionist piece. While I couldn’t find the artist, I’d categorize it as Color Field, considering the time it’s supposed to be from as well as the content. It’s a flat plain of color, but it’s supposed to express the emotion of the artist. I don’t quite care for Color Field, as a genre. I feel Color Field painters just lack the talent and ability to make a more meaningful piece. I appreciate art, usually, but even I fail to appreciate the nonexistent content of the piece. But, I digress…
 Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the artist, but in the scheme of things, I don’t think that’s important. This piece holds depth in the film.

Abstract Art by Bill Haydon seen by George Smiley

You gradually discover, after agonizing through this unfortunate movie that, to Smiley, the painting represents his wife. So, during the first sequence, where he wanders alone- when he focuses on the painting- he’s actually thinking about his wife, who is not there.

Hanging on his wall, it represents not only her missing presence, but also her unfaithfulness to him- an aspect of their relationship which obviously haunts him. The failed marriage, and the painting which symbolizes it, represents the scope of Smiley’s regrets.
So, while I can dislike the movie, as a whole, I did greatly appreciate certain elements, including the use of the painting. The symbolism is terrific, as well as the focus given to the painting. It is a classic use of obsessive love appearing in a painting, as well as representing a ghost-like presence. In this case, it is just a more subtle use of this technique and is done quite well, may I concede.

1 comment:

  1. If it were a Malevich it would be perfect.


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