Susan Granger’s review of “Closed Circuit” (Focus Features)
There’s a quirky British law that requires a defendant in high-profile cases to have two lawyers
who are forbidden to share classified information with one another, and that’s the basis of this intriguing legal thriller in which the two attorneys are former lovers.
Filmed by multiple surveillance cameras, the story begins with a horrific truck explosion that
obliterates London’s Borough Market. Soon after, authorities arrest Turkish-born Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), who is accused of masterminding the attack. In order to try his case, the court must consider evidence that’s deemed so sensitive by MI5 that even the defendant is not permitted to hear or read it. In this kind of situation, the accused is entitled to two separate lawyers, one to try his case in public court, and the other to serve as his Special Advocate in closed hearings – but the counselors cannot communicate with one another.
When Erdogan’s original barrister mysteriously commits suicide, Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is assigned to defend the alleged bomber. Problem is: Rose previously had an affair with Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) who is already serving as the court-appointed Special Advocate. Instead of recusing themselves on ethical grounds, they’re both eager to ‘make’ their reputations by investigating and winning this case, while government forces are pursuing a speedy conviction.
Intelligently scripted by Steve Knight (“Eastern Promises,” “Dirty Pretty Things”) and tautly directed by John Crowley (“Boy A”), the challenging secrecy concept has particular relevance since a significant portion of the U.S.’s case against Bradley Manning was undisclosed in order to protect national security. Knight, Crowley and film editor Lucia Zucchetti cleverly craft the paranoid ploy of ubiquitous technological surveillance and the sanctioned invasion of privacy to underscore the threat of omnipotent parliamentary corruption.
Despite several plot contrivances, Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall are quite believable, aided and abetted by a strong supporting cast including Jim Broadbent, Ciaran Hinds, Riz Ahmed, Anne-Marie Duff and Julia Stiles.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Closed Circuit” is a subdued yet suspenseful 7, a timely