You won't often find me in an Odeon cinema, and I'd all but given up hope of using a free ticket voucher before it expired (insert rant about reels and reels of terrible, terrible films that never should have been made). But the release of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy came just in time to get me through the automatic doors, past the overpriced popcorn and into a comfy if slightly sticky seat in Screen One.
There's been a fair amount of hype around the release, but - good news for my faith in the possibility of seeing a decent film at my local cinema - this is one of those rare times when anticipation doesn't end in disappointment. Based on John le Carré's novel of Cold War espionage and intrigue, it's a thriller of impressive subtlety, without resorting to showiness or cheap tricks of the trade.
I won't give away the plot, but in fact the storyline itself is not the main draw. The film's power to keep bottoms on the edges of seats lies less in the what-happens-next than in the sensory spell cast by each scene, evoking the strange, faded glamour of the MI6 'circus' in 70s London.
Gary Oldman's George Smiley - an agent brought out of retirement to find the 'rotten apple' at the top - is tantalisingly restrained. And the rest of the cast - a veritable who's who, including Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt and Kathy Burke - are equally mesmerising. Perfectly shot and edited, it all adds up to make a film that is brilliantly, beautifully British.