Thoughts: An intimate working knowledge of the original book definitely helps when viewing the 2011 adaptation of Tinker Tailor, but regardless one can still enjoy the fine performances, immaculate cinematography and assured direction. What's interesting to note though, is how the book is quite internal and emotional, whereas this rapidfire version is almost like an exercise in sterility. But then again, I can't really think of an easy way to convert internal processes to the screen, when it is shared among many, many very well-drawn characters.
From imdb:"In the early 1970s during the Cold War, the head of British Intelligence, Control, resigns after an operation in Budapest, Hungary goes badly wrong. It transpires that Control believed one of four senior figures in the service was in fact a Russian agent - a mole - and the Hungary operation was an attempt to identify which of them it was. Smiley had been forced into retirement by the departure of Control, but is asked by a senior government figure to investigate a story told to him by a rogue agent, Ricky Tarr, that there was a mole. Smiley considers that the failure of the Hungary operation and the continuing success of Operation Witchcraft (an apparent source of significant Soviet intelligence) confirms this, and takes up the task of finding him."
Sounds confusing, and yes, it can be. When you're introduced to multiple richly layered characters, and their individual recollection of events, it can be hard to keep up. Names, codenames, cyphers and hidden messages and thoughts abound. Being a convert to the book though, I liked the film as a visual representation of the amazing people and events littered throughout the text.
Despite all this, Director Tomas Alfredson proves once again how much of a talent he is in the field of cinema, and DP Hoyte Van Hoytema conjures up an almost perfect recreation of late 70s England, complete with thick grain and muted colours, dreary skies and greys mixed with brown.
Events transpire differently in the film than to the book, sometimes greatly. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. Ricki Tarr, played here by personal favourite Tom Hardy, practically screams the actor from the page. But in this adaptation, he's practically all nerves and twitch, retaining almost none of the smarm and fatalism seen in the book. A few characters and events are combined for time constraints too, but again, nothing that adversely affects the final product.
Ultimately, you're dealing with great actors, a fantastic source and strong crew behind the scenes. If you don't like talking though, you might not be inclined to stay awake for the whole ticket. Those of us who like classic spy thinkers should definitely get on board. And for the record: I personally preferred the book. A lot more emotion and flesh to the bones.