Pin It

Paranoia in the Courtroom 

Closed Circuit gives us a lesson in overseas justice

click to enlarge Eric Bana stars as a freaked-out lawyer in Closed Circuit.
  • Eric Bana stars as a freaked-out lawyer in Closed Circuit.

You don’t really need to know much about the British legal system to get totally involved in the stories and accompanying tension of Closed Circuit. You don’t have to understand the difference between barristers and advocates (they’re both lawyers) or what it means when a judge orders a recess at a trial, then says to the barristers and advocates remaining in the courtroom, “Wigs off!”

Yet even if you did get how all of that stuff works, the busy plotting and side-plotting in this legal thriller centering on a terrorist trial would still likely generate some confusion. But that’s OK. If things are a little hard to understand while they’re being woven together and then played out, everything makes sense in the end.

What’s going on at the start of Closed Circuit is straightforward. Director John Crowley kicks it off in unnerving style reminiscent of what Brian De Palma did so well in his ’70s films, with multiple images, all of them shots from surveillance cameras, all focusing on bustling London streets, all building to a massive terrorist explosion.

Six months later, a trial has begun. Our hero (antihero?) Martin (Eric Bana) is a successful barrister who has been brought in to defend Farroukh (Denis Moschitto), the man implicated in the bombing that killed 120 people. It’s briefly remarked that Martin has taken over for another barrister who just committed suicide. There’s also Claudia (Rebecca Hall), who will serve as Farroukh’s special advocate, working alongside but not actually together with Martin.

Even though Martin and Claudia are on the same side of the case, due to the existence of some “secret evidence” they’re not allowed to communicate with each other. But since they’re former lovers and aren’t exactly on speaking terms these days, that’s no big deal. Yet the fact that there was an affair between them, and they’re not telling anyone, is enough to make their involvement in the case just this side of illegal. All of that, and the plot hasn’t even begun to thicken.

This is a film about paranoia, about people wondering if they’re being watched, if they’re being followed, about national security and whether or not the government should be called the good guys or the bad guys. The Secret Service gets involved, there’s talk of a secret informant, and we meet Joanna (Julia Stiles), an American journalist questioning that first barrister’s supposed suicide.

It’s a film where complications not only ensue but keep getting more complicated before they’re resolved. It has a conclusion that initially feels tacked on, dealing with issues of justice and injustice, of fairness and morality, but then ends up feeling just right.


  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Mind the Gap
  • Mind the Gap

    20th Century Women offers a compassionate take on generational shifts
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Golden Arches
  • Golden Arches

    Michael Keaton gives us the story of McDonald's in the Founder
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend

    Jackie keeps repeating its intriguing ideas about turning people into icons
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Choir Boy, Water Monster, Local Pavlov

Choir Boy, Water Monster, Local Pavlov @ The Observatory

Sun., Jan. 22, 8 p.m.-12 a.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks


More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

Top Tags in
Music & Film



Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Spy vs. Spy
  • Spy vs. Spy

    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. carves out a unique space in a crowded espionage marketplace
    • Aug 12, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation