We’re all being watched. All the time.
That’s a key message of “Closed Circuit,” an entertaining and well-crafted if not overly heart-stopping British conspiracy thriller starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall. Security cameras are everywhere, giving us birds-eye glimpses of each character, and reminding us that we, too, are never really alone.
Such a concept is hardly shocking in 2013. We write an email, and soon an ad pops up telling us where to buy that thing we sort of mentioned. And of course we’ve learned in recent months not only of secret government surveillance but even the “Boyfriend Tracker” app for our phones.
But if it’s not a shocking concept, the makers of “Closed Circuit,” an intelligent film directed by John Crowley, have certainly shown how creepy it can be. In the London we see here — one of the most watched places in the world, we learn, in terms of security cameras — you never know who’s around the corner, or who’s been in your apartment.
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At least, such is life for Martin Rose (Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall), two lawyers who become ensnared in the legal case surrounding a horrific terror attack.
As the film begins, we’re staring, fittingly, at footage from security cameras. Each captures a snippet of life on a busy November morning. In one frame, a truck shows up where it’s not supposed to. In an instant, 120 people are dead.
Rowing peacefully on the Thames, Martin gets a call. The lawyer defending the lone surviving terror suspect has committed suicide. Martin’s been tapped to replace him. As for Claudia, she’s the special advocate, an additional defense lawyer designated by British law to examine secret evidence to be presented in “closed session,” away from the public and the press. Even Martin cannot see this evidence.
And he’s not allowed to communicate with Claudia. This is easy at first, because the two happen to be estranged lovers. They’re ambitious enough not to reveal their past romantic entanglement and thus get removed from the case. But if they’re found out, it could end their careers.
The two main actors are a pleasure to watch. Bana seethes with frustration. And Hall brings the film much of its humanity, striking that balance of competence and determination tempered by a growing recognition of her frailty.