As we got up from our seats at the end of the brilliant movie, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on Saturday night, my friend Rachel turned to me and said ‘it would have to be you who sat next to the only popcorn eater in the cinema’. Actually I am usually the last person to sit next to a chomper of popcorn and generally think that I have a pretty blessed sort of life. However it was to teach me a good lesson in cinema etiquette, English style.
TTSS is a wonderful movie to go and see, but it helps if you are able to concentrate all the way through. It is visually gorgeous and relies on the incredible acting of Gary Oldman, who does not disappoint in a Michael Caine sort of way. You know the genre of actor who can convey a whole scene by just moving three muscles in the eye region or who can sustain interest in a monologue without orating, OK it helps that script was really beautifully handled. It’s beautifully shot and very evocative of Cold War London and Budapest, not that I knew Budapest in those days but I did see it soon after the Iron Curtain came down and I had visited a number of other communist states beforehand and can remember the paranoia.
There’s also a lot of old props that they had found, things like Fairy Liquid bottles and the general detritus of the era, which was used to great effect. Anyone with an interest in design will be delighted at the historic packaging. But I digress from the strength of the movie, which is tense slow burn, high-lit with moments of real fear and distress. Despite this is is really beautiful, a joy to watch, elegant, complicated and subtle.
Thankfully the delightful old gentleman at the bottom of the escalator who checked our tickets warned us that he had seen TTSS a couple of times and was struggling to understand the plot, we were therefore alert from the moment the film started to the need to concentrate.
Honestly speaking, during the film I felt a bit grumpy but I could tell that is was in those quiet tense moments that my neighbour was holding her breath and then using the pop-corn as a concentration technique, never mind that it was distracting to all those in a four seat radius. I was sorely tempted to break the rules of English behaviour and lean across and ask her to eat during the noisy bits only, however I could not quite do it!
1. Than I am more English that I had thought
2. That my friends think I am a walking disaster zone, which leads me to think that I should censor my tales of life.
3. That I’ll ever eat popcorn in a quiet movie, it’s not kind to the neighbours!