Thursday, November 12, 2015

There's something about a paranoid thriller : Closed Circuit (2013)

Closed circuit [DVD]. Focus Features presents a Working Title production; screenplay by Steve Knight; produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Chris Clark; directed by John Crowley. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2014. Originally released as a motion picture in 2013. Bonus feature: ‘Secrets behind the camera: Closed circuit’. Performers: Julia Stiles, Ciaran Hinds, Jim Broadbent, Eric Bana, Anne-Marie Duff, Rebecca Hall.
Summary: One morning, a busy London market is decimated by an explosion. In the manhunt that follows, only one member of the suspected terrorist cell survives: Farroukh Erdogan, who is arrested and jailed. Martin and Claudia are lawyers and ex-lovers who find themselves bound together again and put at risk after they join the defense team for an international terrorist's trial.

“There are powers at play that neither you nor I may even hope to control.”

Closed Circuit
may not be a great movie, or give us a lot that’s new, but it does tell its story in a cool, competent, sometimes stylish way that makes it a very easy-to-watch, if unsettling, cinematic experience. Most of the paranoid tropes are present: terrorist incident; well-meaning, frequently menaced defense lawyers; pushy, not-so-appealing American journalist; oily bureaucrats; malevolent spy organization; clandestine meetings in parks; suspicious suicides; cover-ups; mysterious powers behind the scenes pulling the strings.

All the skullduggery is presented in a murky, hero-looking-over-his-shoulder style, and in this case the paranoia is not only topical but both tangible and mechanical. The technology put to use in our surveillance-state world and its Hitchcockian, film-world ramifications is placed front and center, specifically the camera-created world, which watches and records our every move, and the political world, which gathers data from the citizenry to be used by the politicians to “protect” said citizens. Truth be told, this aspect of the film wasn’t developed as much as one might have hoped for, but what we are given – strong performances by the principals, good production values, and the intelligent, fast-moving script – is sufficient to raise the film to the ranks of well-heeled time passer if not exactly a masterpiece.

Happily, for the writer anyway, a goodly portion of the story involved the minutiae of legal grunt work and the resultant peek into the somewhat arcane British legal system. I loved the scene where Bana and sidekick enter a room filled with piles and piles of legal briefs and other documents. But despite the weighty legal, political and philosophical issues involved, there’s not a lot in Closed Circuit’s treatment that’s particularly original. As mentioned above, we’ve seen it all before, arguably done better. To some extent CC morphs, about half way through, into a conventional suspense thriller, a pretty good one at that, even if the ending seems truncated and strained.

In short: there’s not much that’s new in Closed Circuit, but not much that’s wrong either.

style ***

No comments:

Post a Comment