Review by Sean Boelman
Not to be confused with the recently-released (but very different) Netflix documentary of the same name, Michael Bentham’s feature directorial debut Disclosure is a talky thriller with a lot on its mind. But thanks to some brilliant dialogue, the film manages to be impactful in a thought-provoking way.
The film follows two couples as they argue over an allegation made by one of their daughters against the other’s son. Although the script does go a bit off the rail at times, veering into melodramatic territory, more often than not, it is a grounded exploration of the ethical issues at its core.
This isn’t an easy movie to think about — many audience members, like an argument that is made in the film, would probably like for this issue to go away — but unfortunately, things like this do happen in the real world. And while Bentham doesn’t offer an easy solution here, the point seems to be that there is no good way to fix this issue.
One of the more interesting things that Bentham did with his script was to present these events entirely from the perspective of the children’s parents. This allows Bentham to go all-in on his themes of believing victims, as the audience is left to believe what they are told without witnessing it firsthand (as is so often the way that situations like this occur).
Perhaps the biggest thing working in the film’s favor is its razor-sharp dialogue. The script shares a lot more in common with a stage play than an average screenplay in that the pacing is largely dictated by the rhythm of the words rather than that of the camera, but the film is still entirely effective nevertheless.
Of course, credit also needs to be given to the actors whose performances go a long way in selling the authenticity of the film. Tom Wren and Geraldine Hakewill and Mark Leonard Winter and Matilda Ridgway are great as the two couples, respectively, especially in communicating the gradual escalation of tension.
Bentham does a good job of taking advantage of the limited setting in which the film takes place, with a sense of spatial geography that is quite welcome, but there are a few artistic choices that are somewhat ineffective. The chief of these is the use of unnecessary slow motion in the climax of the film.
There are some really good things happening in Disclosure, making it one of the most exciting debuts of the year thus far. By no means is this a particularly pleasant film, but it is an essential watch.
Disclosure premieres online on June 26 at 8pm ET here before releasing on VOD on June 30.