Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 2019. Topic Studios, Margin of Error, Unbranded Pictures, Vice Media. Screenplay by Scott Z. Burns. Cinematography by Eigil Bryld. Produced by Scott Z. Burns, Jennifer Fox, Danny Gabai, Eddy Moretti, Kerry Orent, Steven Soderbergh, Michael Sugar. Music by David Wingo. Production Design by Ethan Tobman. Costume Design by Susan Lyall. Film Editing by Greg O’Bryant.
Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) is an unknown member of the Senate when he is picked by his boss Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to head up a report investigating the presence of torture in post-9/11 detentions and interrogations. While never expected to be a simple or quick job, the project shockingly ends up taking up over a decade of the man’s life as he compiles thousands of pages that show the willful abuses of American law covered up by the CIA in the name of national security. Blowback is inevitable, Jones is accused of being unpatriotic to a country responding to an atrocity committed on its own soil, but he stays the course under Feinstein’s confident leadership and proceeds anyway. Pushback from the CIA is also to be expected, the agency at first trying to squash the existence of the report before trying their best to put its contents into context and, then, when beaten at that game, focusing on the PR game of promising to do better next time. Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns directs for the first time and does so like a writer, there’s a clinical perfection to the way that events are compiled and presented in smooth working order that feels intelligent and flavourless at the same time. Driver provides steady navigation in the lead role while Bening is perfectly cast as Feinstein, her deep and commanding voice making a film determined to avoid eccentric drama into something riveting and intense. As exposures of government corruption go, this one reveals nothing that will shock you (Taxi To The Dark Side covered it all and was more powerful), but for those who enjoy seeing the record set straight it will be a satisfying watch with a tidy ending.
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Supporting Actress (Annette Bening)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2019