I first read this book a few decades ago when I was young and green, and fairly new to international spy stories (high school, in fact). I loved it then and I loved the film now. The length of time between reading the book and seeing the film was a benefit – there were probably many details of this twisting turning story that had to be left out. That’s okay – it’s been 30 years! I don’t remember them.
I was happily refreshed on the bits I did remember though and I thought all the actors did an excellent job with their roles. The cinematography and colouring was great – gritty and 1970s to the core. If it occasionally it seemed to drag on, I reminded myself, that I’d thought the same with the book and in both cases, I found myself unexpectedly in the middle of something big. This happens in a story with so many parts coming together.
From memory, I don’t recall that Guilliam was gay in the book but like I said, thirty years have passed and at 17 (or so) I might not have noticed any sexual inferences. My children, on seeing the film didn’t notice it this time around either. In fact, they didn’t get a lot of what was going on and didn’t enjoy it as much as their love of the cast suggested they might.
One of my all time favourite spy characters is George Smiley. Such an ordinary man in appearance and manner yet so smart and observant. An obliging spy if you will. He listened and watched and pulled all the strings together until he had his rug of truth. Obligingly letting the others tell their own stories and dig their own graves.
I hadn’t read a le Carre story in years and thought I might dig one or two out to reread when I found “A Constant Gardener” sitting in the back of my car. Hooked by the end of the first page. I’ve missed Le Carre’s stories – can’t wait to get back into them. Can’t wait to reread “Tinker Tailer…”.