By Laurie Coker
With all the goings on and debate about surveillance, loss of privacy, terrorism and stolen freedoms, I assumed a film like Closed Circuit might impress me with a crisp thematic connection to current events. Although the film begins well enough, it soon fizzles out into a sputter of predictability and superficiality. Touted as a thriller, Closed Circuit is more television movie than big screen feature.
It opens with mesmerizing and multiplying images from closed-circuit TV cameras showing people going on about their daily activities and then moves quite quickly to six months later and the lives of a barrister, Martin Rose (Eric Bana), set to defend a bombing suspect, and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), a special advocate to the same defendant. There are blatant references to a past relationship and even though they represent the same client, neither is supposed to share information about and dealings with the client. Screenwriter Stephen Wright didn’t need to include a past relationship between the pair, and that he did serves to make the film all the more unsurprising. Ultimately, neither their past relationship nor their current one feels important.
More than anything, I believe a film like Closed Circuit might have shaken and stunned audiences twenty-years ago, but the distressing truth is that terrorist attacks don’t surprise us, even those cloaked in a greater, darker reality. Any element of shock is lost and because of the underlying and unnecessary romantic tension between leads, we are even less interested.
Speaking of the stars, Bana and Hall could not look more disinterested in their roles. They appear to go through the motions in numbed indifference. With zero chemistry in either relationship, as battling barristers or sparring ex-lovers, even they can’t carry Wright’s predictable plot and John Crowley’s dim direction. Others in the cast, Jim Broadbent and Ciarán Hinds, do what they do best, but for this very reason, their characters are transparent and limited. In fact, at 96 minutes, Crowley allows for very limited development in character or story. No time is allowed for engaging or investing in the characters, not even when their lives are threatened, in part because we figure it all out well in advance.
I chose Closed Circuit over another screening for a few reasons, but unfortunately, the best thing for me was the short ride home. Simply put, it’s tepid all around and better suited for cable television. R-rated, although I wonder why (language maybe), Closed Circuit earns a D+ from me.