The film follows famed Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, and it alternates between three time periods – the early 1940s, the early 1950s (after the war), and the 1920s when Turing is a young man. This is yet another film that intends to explain a character's interesting or seemingly inexplicable behavior through recourse to a past that is unfolded to the audience slowly. In Turing's case, he was in love as a very young man and this boyhood love somehow – well, the film doesn't really say, but it had a profound effect on him, and if The Imitation Game is not really clear about any concrete effects this young man had on Turing, the film makes us think that it has unlocked something deep about Turing and his (allegedly) mysterious life.
And The Imitation Game goes further: everyone keeps secrets during the war. There are spies for the Soviets and secrets kept from the military and encoded messages from the Nazis. Being gay is just one more secret in a whole series of them – a comparison the film makes explicitly in a scene late in the film. In other words, the film doesn't explore the life of Alan Turing at all. Instead it explores what might have happened if a homosexual worked for MI6 during the Second World War. Everything in this film is approached generically.
Oh, but don't listen to me. I'm just a curmudgeon. The film comes out in late November, and most everyone will probably like it. Expect Oscar nominations for the writer, the composer, and the two main actors. That seems about right. It's a crowd-pleaser. It's about World War II. And it feels very important.