Now playing at International Village
If you think we have Big Brother trouble on this side of the Atlantic, stay away from London, which by one estimate has almost half a million closed circuit TV cameras: one for every 14 people in the city.
Before the opening credits are through, these cameras document a suicide bombing at a London market that claims the lives of 120 people. It’s an immensely relevant thriller; a smart one too, which makes it a breath of fresh air after all that summer silliness (how many times can we watch the White House blow up, anyway?).
Six months after the bombing, defense attorney Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is assigned to the high-profile case after the previous counsel takes a leap from a very tall building. Also assigned is Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), on Martin’s team but as special advocate she is privy to secret evidence that may threaten national security, to be argued behind locked doors. Under British law the two may not chat, meet or have tea and crumpets. Too bad they’ve already slept together.
The attorney-general (Jim Broadbent, playing the baddie for a change) promises that the proceedings will be “open and transparent,” but what he really wants is neat and tidy, a scapegoat on which to hang a quick conviction.
They try and build a defense for their client, a Turkish national named Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) who isn’t particularly cooperative. Martin delves deeper only to discover that the real responsibility for the act of terrorism lies elsewhere, and a journalist (Julia Stiles) implies that the original lawyer may have been pushed from that ledge.
The two deduce separately that they are being followed and watched, by an MI5 agent (Riz Ahmed, very good), by taxi drivers, and by those ubiquitous CCTV cameras. Right when they are ready to concede defeat and wave a white flag, the stakes are upped when it is discovered that Farroukh’s teenage son (Hasancan Cifci) could blow the whole thing open.
If you sat through some of the movies that boomed through theatres this summer, you may be unused to the fact that, other than the dramatic explosion at Closed Circuit’s beginning, there is a dearth of pyrotechnics and — gasp! — no gunplay at all. There are plenty of bobbies walking around in SWAT gear, however, and the bad guys have quieter methods for offing their victims.
A love story may seem unlikely and contrived under the circumstances, but director John Crawley makes it work: no torrid bedroom scenes here, just a flashback to happier times intercut with the miserable present (the affair clearly destroyed Martin’s marriage). Despite spending much of the film working separately, Bana and Hall make a convincing pair.
This isn’t a particularly twisty thriller, and you won’t have to work very hard to keep up — it is still officially summer, after all — but Closed Circuit is a stylish and admirably acted film that taps into jitters about our surveillance state.
© Copyright 2013