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Film Review: Closed Circuit – don’t miss this one!

The holiday weekend that brings our summer of 2013 to an end brings one of the season’s best films to theaters across the country—a film whose timing is a jaw-dropping surrealistic déjà vu of the months just lived. A summer marked by whistleblower Bradley Manning’s grossly unjust thirty-five year prison sentence for daring to uphold his oath to the Constitution of the United States and reveal war crimes; of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of anti-Constitutional mass domestic and global surveillance by the NSA; of President Obama’s acts of breathtaking, thuggish criminality, including arm-twisting of European nations to down the aircraft of Bolivian President Evo Morales, in violation of international law, to search his plane for Snowden; of the UK’s blatant misuse and abuse of law (with Obama’s fore-knowledge thus complicity) to detain and hold the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who had the audacity and  temerity to report these crimes against the Constitution, as a terrorist as he lands at Heathrow airport for a flight change–an act of pure intimidation by the long arm of the US and UK police-state(s)—all have played out the axiom that life is indeed stranger than fiction.

To one-up the real-life secret government-within-a-government’s dramas acted out before our eyes these past months—secret cloak and dagger government made possible by classification due to reasons of national security/aka to hide the illegal acts of our government leaders and our spy agencies—would take a film extraordinaire. Closed Circuit is such a film. If art is to mirror life and so to reveal our culture to ourselves, Closed Circuit is a masterpiece. The highly intelligent screenplay written by Steven Knight, brilliantly cast with Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, and Jim Broadbent, and directed by the impressive talent of John Crowley comes to the screen as an intense, taut thriller. There’s plenty of action, but better: there’s an authenticity and realness in how it gives insight into the underbelly of the beast of MI5/MI6 (the equivalence of our FBI and CIA)—how murder of journalists, defense lawyers, as well as an accused victim are all par for the course of protecting state secrets of an MI5 plot gone awry.

Given how long it takes for a film script to be crafted, and the production from script to screen, one has to wonder and marvel about the serendipity (or the irony) that Closed Circuit should be arriving in our theaters this Labor Day weekend. However this marvel happened, do yourself a favor and do not miss this one.

Synopsis by Rotten Tomatoes:

In the international suspense thriller “Closed Circuit,” a high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team – testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy. 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 (Denis Moschitto), who is arrested and jailed. Preparations begin for what promises to be the trial of the century.

But there’s a hitch: the government will use classified evidence to prosecute Erdogan, evidence so secret that neither he nor his lawyers can be allowed to see it. Hence the need for the Attorney General (Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent) to appoint a Special Advocate, an additional government-approved defense lawyer (Claudia Simmons-Howe, played by Golden Globe Award nominee Rebecca Hall), one who has clearance to see classified evidence and who can argue for its full disclosure when the trial moves to “closed” session.

The rules for the Special Advocate are clear: once the secret evidence is shared with her, Claudia will not be allowed to communicate even with the defendant or with other members of the defense team. But just as the case is on the eve of going to trial, Erdogan’s lawyer dies suddenly, and a new defense attorney, Martin Rose (Eric Bana), quickly steps in. Martin is tenacious, driven, and brilliant – and an ex-lover of Claudia’s. The two lawyers make an uncomfortable pact to keep their former affair hidden. But as Martin begins to piece the case together, the outlines of a sinister conspiracy emerge, one that will draw him and Claudia dangerously close again.

For other reviews, articles, as well as books by Janet Wise, go to:

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Janet Wise

Janet Wise