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They’re Watching

by Laura Leon on September 5, 2013

Closed Circuit
Directed by John Crowley

 

Julia Stiles and Eric Bana in Closed Circuit

With its birds-eye, security-cam views of Brits, ex-patriots, and tourists walking through, talking in, working, and just living in London, Closed Circuit makes us shiver at the  mere suggestion of 24/7 surveillance even as it makes us want to call a travel agent. Director John Crowley does a yeoman’s job of bringing us the vicariously gritty and suave textures of an international capital, the centerpiece of this crisp investigation into a suicide bombing of a popular marketplace. The guilty party, Farroukh (Dennis Moschito), doesn’t seem to have a prayer—that is, until his attorney Martin Rose (Eric Bana) begins to ask messy questions that suggest involvement by M15. Martin’s partner on the defense, Claudia (Rebecca Hall), is positioned as Farroukh’s special advocate, and by some quirk of the English legal system, neither is allowed to share information with the other. In the 1980s, this would have been a movie about the injustices that resulted from such a decidedly strange system, but as we’re well beyond that now, this is merely a suspenseful flick that provides much-needed relief from a decidedly lackluster cinematic season.

And did I mention that Martin and Claudia are former lovers? This adds another thin layer of angst to the already uneasy fit between defense attorney and special advocate, and Bana and Hall are well-matched at exchanging tortured glances and edgy repartee. The movie does an admirable job of showing people actually working, slogging through the evidence and treading through dodgy interviews with equally dodgy suspects and witnesses. As the pace quickens, the sense of imminent danger intensifies. Closed Circuit in many ways reminds me of those ’70s movies in which the lead characters are adrift, uncertain whom to trust, and unaware of the many dangers that lay in store for them. In this movie, it’s pretty clear from the get-go that something fishy is afoot, and that the government may be involved. Thankfully, the script doesn’t go full throttle into a blame game, preferring instead to limn the edges of morality, ethics and justice, and let us viewers mull the costs. By film’s end, one has to wonder whether the main characters’ choices and outcomes are really believable, but regardless of the outcome of the exercise, Closed Circuit is a neat, tight little thriller that bears watching.