TIFF 2014: The Imitation Game review

The Alan Turing biopic, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, is one of the most talked-about films at the Toronto International Film Festival. CBC staffers see if the movie is worth all the fuss.

Benedict Cumberbatch's new film is gorgeous, nuanced and subtle, say CBC staffers

Clockwise from left, Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech and Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the film, The Imitation Game. (The Associated Press/The Weinstein Company, Jack English)

Benedict Cumberbatch was, by many accounts, the darling of last year's Toronto International Film Festival. The Sherlock star is at it again, causing a fan frenzy Tuesday night at the red carpet gala for the Canadian premiere of The Imitation Game.

Morten Tyldum's Alan Turing biopic, also starring Keira Knightley, has been generating headlines long before it made its world premiere at last month's low-key Telluride Film Festival. Critics and fans in Canada have now had a good look at the film.

Here's the verdict from CBC Arts staffers:

Eli Glasner, CBC Arts reporter
At first glance Benedict
Cumberbatch's performance as Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician recruited to break Nazi codes, might seem familiar: Another intellectual character with a brilliant mind and poor people skills. But Turning is deeper than Sherlock and director Morten Tyldum fleshes out the character by introducing Alan young and old. Keira Knightley charms as Alan's kindred spirit and Cumberbatch adds a touch of humour to Turing's logical outlook. While the conclusion doesn't do full justice to the scope of Turing's accomplishments, it's a gorgeous primer. 4 stars out of 5.

Sian Jones, Producer, CBC Arts 
Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch's most nuanced performance, this film is a must-see at TIFF. It is set in various decades of Turing's life, and the attention to period details is breathtaking. One feels immersed in the world of Hut 8 where Turing and his colleagues were working on breaking Nazi code during the Second World War. Flashbacks from his youth and life post-war give us insight into the character of the man. Benedict Cumberbatch fully inhabits this character, channelling Turing's genius and vulnerability. Secrets play a role in this films — whether they be about Turing's work or his sexuality. 4½ stars out of 5

Nigel Hunt, Producer, CBC Arts 
A solid biopic of British math whiz Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who becomes a secret Second World War code breaker by inventing the computer before revelations that he's homosexual lead to his suicide. Keira Knightley shines as Turing's faux fiancée while Cumberbatch's sulky take on genius may be remembered during awards season. 4 stars out of 5.

Zulekha Nathoo, CBC Arts reporter​
The secrecy behind cracking the Nazis' Enigma code, and cryptographer Alan Turing's role in it, is the focus of this historical drama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Based on a biography of Turing, the film explores the mathematician's personal life and professional brilliance. The best part is the film doesn't take a stance on his character — it lets the audience decide whether Turing is a genius or a monster. Cumberbatch's performance is subtle and laudable. Don't be surprised if he gets a nomination come awards season. 4½ stars out of 5.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sunday.