Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows, Jeremy Northam.
The factual story of Bletchley Park and the genius of Alan Turin story have recently been in the limelight thanks to the successful film The Imitation Game. This was not the first time that the Bletchley Park code breakers have graced the silver screen. In 2001 Tom Stoppard developed a screenplay based on Enigma, the Robert Harris novel.
In contrast to its modern counterpart Enigma is fictional. It is still based around the infamous Nazi code breaking team at Bletchley but instead of Turin we see a character named Thomas Jericho (Dougray Scott). Jericho is a similar character to Turin. Socially awkward but a gift to code-breaking. The plot focuses on his relationship, or rather the lack of relationship, with blonde bombshell Claire Romilly (Saffron Burrows) and his developing relationship with Hester Wallace (Kate Winslett). Jericho and Romilly share an affair of the heart but then she dumps him and disappears. In order to unravel her disappearance Jericho must negotiate his way through a variety of questions and mysteries linked to code breaking and the Enigma.
This then leads Jericho to have an emotional breakdown. He then begins working with Romilly's housemate Hester Wallace and they discover Romilly's links to Nazi coding and use their skills to try and protect Romilly from charges of treason. It won't take long for you to join Jericho in his emotional breakdown.
Watching Enigma makes you wish you had the code breaking skills evident on screen in order to understand the plot. The film has a complex plot which is an enigma in itself. It also jumps backwards and forwards in time. This gives the film a disjointed feel and makes it even more difficult to follow.
Despite admirable performances from Winslett and Burrows there is a feeling that the film falls short of what it could have been. Scott is difficult to connect with as the troubled protagonist and Jeremy Northam (who plays Wigram) comes across as a poor mans Cary Grant.
The film feels as if it is constantly leading to a dramatic climax that never comes to fruition. Although the plot reaches its conclusion, you are left asking more questions that you have had answered. Was this a love story about Jericho and both Romilly and Wallace? Was it a war film about breaking the Nazi's communication codes? Or was it about one mans struggle with his own personal demons? I still have no answers to these questions, other than it feels like a bit of all of them, but not enough of any of them.
Enigma is a very apt title for this film, as it sums it up entirely.