By: Katy Kleinginna (Five Beers) –
Closed Circuit deserves two tag lines: “Oh how convenient!” and “Commence eye roll sequence…now!”
“Closed Circuit” is essentially the paranoid, messy response to people’s ingrained fear of government surveillance. The film follows a British lawyer finding himself in the midst of a strange case: defending an accused mastermind of a suicide bombing. The film opens with surveillance film of said bombing, taking place in the middle of a busy London borough and killing over 100 innocent civilians. A team of detectives and lawyers are assigned to unravel the mystery of the bombing and those responsible for it, but a shocking “suicide” of the top lawyer throws a wrench into the mix, forcing our “hero” to take over. Drama ensues when another lawyer assigned to the case had a secret affair with the lead, causing tensions to rise in the court room. It’s a race against the clock when overly paranoid characters who seem smart enough to decode everyone’s motives after an initial meeting, but dumb enough to get roped into horribly scripted scenarios, have to find the answers necessary to unlock a confusingly complicated mystery.
The intent of the director was to encourage people to question the motive of government surveillance and how poorly managed the system is. Viewers leave the cinema with a running list of questions surrounding how deep governments are entwined within civilians lives, but the presentation of the film leaves viewers more paranoid than curious. The toast for the film is a double-edged sword, mostly because the intent falls short instead of finishing strong.
Tied in with the poor execution of the plot is the directors lack of direction over his cast. Using half art haus shots and half awkwardly placed action shots, the director loses focus and produces what ends up being a cheaper, sillier version of a James Bond flick. The artsy shots often include the camera placed directly above or on the profile the character to add drama, and not relying on chemistry of characters and dialogue to support the scene. The action shots are almost as cliché as the romance-y, arts-y shots. Establishing shots last far too long and generally include characters staring at each other blankly with forced anger. This pitfall may be the fault of the actors and not the director and editing team, but it seems the director was laissez-faire through much of the film. The poor editing and mixing of scenes leaves audience members trying to piece together the plot rather than focusing on the matters introduced in the film.
Aside from the amateur edits, dialogue and direction, the music placement is…well, it’s just bad. The overly dramatic music causes a build up of excitement, but due to the sloppy mix of the film, always seems to fall flat. The drama of the characters and volume of the music sync up so succinctly that viewers are left wondering if they’re watching a crime thriller or a British spin-off of Young and Restless.
The success of romantic films, or at the very least romantic scenes, rely on the chemistry between characters. The only chemistry between characters in this film is their ability to stay synchronized in their bipolar flips between ripping each other’s clothes off with their eyes and their violent hatred towards one another. The romantic flashback (in which both characters experience simultaneously…how cute. Barf!) is reminiscent of an old perfume commercial, right down to the soft piano and sensual touches. Even though the chemistry leaves much to the imagination, at least the characters are equally gorgeous!
You’re pretty, I’m pretty, Let’s just be pretty together
Our “hero” hates journalists and finds them tacky, but then he loves and admires them, but then he hates them again, but then he’s neutral to their power. If you appreciate an indecisive lead with a God complex and inability to find his “moral compass”, feel free to watch this film. He chastises a journalist for pursuing the facts, but finds it acceptable to lie under oath, bribe a witness, and cheat his way into discovering “state secrets.” Anti-heroes work in certain films if there are any sort of likable personality characteristics, but there is absolutely nothing interesting or enticing about our lead.
I’m important! Trust me, I have a boat.
The film is sloppy, confusing and poorly edited, but leaves viewers with a few questions about government influence. The message is lost in the drama and hokey dialogue, but keep in mind there IS a message laced somewhere within the film.
Take a Drink: “I’m angry so I’m just going to stare at you”
Take a Drink: when you laugh at how poorly placed the music is
Drink a Shot: white lady tries to decode foreign language
Drink a Shot: when you realize how similarly the “bad guy” looks to Shia Labouef
Drink a Shot: when you roll your eyes (I’d say a shot, but it happens far too often)