The inner workings and inspirations in the highly secretive world of the British legal system, mixed with the highly sensitive subject of the effects of terrorism on the world’s leading powerful nations, is a perfect setup for a realistic representation of the modern criminal justice system. The captivating political and emotional motivations in exploring the inner workings of a criminal terrorist trial are daringly explored in director John Crowley’s new crime-drama-mystery, ‘Closed Circuit.’ From the highly personal and realistic exploration of the relationship and work ethic of the lawyers on the case, to the stylized visuals that captivatingly emphasized the characters’ motivations and feelings, the film offers an intriguing insight into the incentives of the modern legal system.
‘Closed Circuit’ follows a manhunt to find Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), the sole member of a suspected terrorist cell that bombs a busy London market. After he’s arrested and jailed, the government is set to use classified evidence to prosecute him. The evidence is so secret that the Attorney General (Jim Broadbent) assigns Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), a Special Advocate, a government-approved defense lawyer, who has clearance to see the classified evidence. But once she sees the secret evidence, she won’t be able to speak with the defendant or the other members of the defense team.
When Erdogan’s lawyer dies suddenly, a new defense attorney, Martin Rose (Eric Bana), quickly steps in. While Martin is a brilliant lawyer, he enters into an uncomfortable working relationship with Claudia, as the two are ex-lovers. They make a pact to keep their former affair hidden as they work on the case. But as Martin begins to piece the case together, the outlines of a sinister conspiracy emerge, which will draw him and Claudia close together again.
Crowley smartly cast Bana and Hall alongside each other as two ex-lovers who are still keeping their previous affair a secret, and the two actors powerfully understand the need to keep the defense attorney and Special Advocate’s past romance buried during the trial. While the two actors have a natural chemistry that’s filled with tension as they debate what their characters still mean to each other, they also organically try to find a way to beneficially work alongside each other. When Martin and Claudia finally begin speaking to each other again once they begin working on the case, they still disagree about the importance of their personal relationship, showing how fractured they still are from each other emotionally.
Bana effortlessly represents Martin as being a successful lawyer who will take any means necessary to defend his client in court and in the eye of the public. The actor, who studied the British legal system in London with Hall and Crowley for three months before filming began on ‘Closed Circuit,’ easily represented the ideals of an emotionally vulnerable lawyer who continuously seeks validation in his complete understanding of, and success in, law. While Martin begins to emotionally deteriorate the more he closely works with Claudia and feels the public scrutiny surrounding the case, Bana undeniably relied on his research into the British legal system to portray the lawyer’s strong professional persona.
Hall instinctively understood Claudia’s fortitude and drive to protect Farroukh and his family while studying the evidence against him, and determine whether or not he’s guilty. While the actress effortlessly portrayed the character as being strong-willed against the prosecutors and judge on the case, Hall also humbly showcased Claudia’s vulnerability over her doubts on whether or not she can truly save her client. Claudia finds the perfect balance of having a controlling streak over how the evidence against her client will be represented in court, while also presenting her idealistic side as she relentlessly searches for the truth.
‘Closed Circuit’s costume designer, Natalie Ward, creatively emphasized how seriously Martin and Claudia took their jobs and oath to protect their client. Ward effortlessly tailored Martin’s suits, emphasizing how seriously he valued his appearance in court and to the world, as well as his responsibilities of protecting his client. The costume designer also smartly visited the famed Chancery Lance shop, Ede & Ravenscroft, for inspiration for Claudia’s professional clothing. The designer not only got a sense of how seriously Special Advocates take their court gowns and wigs, but also their love for their designer suits and how individualized they become, even during court briefings. Ward effortlessly infused that originality into the Special Advocate’s court clothing throughout the film.
Production designer Jim Clay also intriguingly helped emphasize the lawyers’ clashing personalities and their strong initiative to protect their client. While using a real residence for Claudia’s apartment, where she’s being kept under surveillance, Clay used sleek, bright, modern furniture, emphasizing her hope in successfully doing her job and freeing innocent people. Clay also built a humble boathouse for Martin on a jetty in Battersea, which served as a calming sanctuary for the lawyer when he wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the London legal world. Martin’s simplistic, dark home subtly represents the lawyer’s determination to solely focus on his work to prove his talent, and not continuously rely on his societal presence to influence his reputation.
‘Closed Circuit’ is a thrilling crime-mystery-drama that instinctively relies on its performances by, and chemistry between, Bana and Hall, as well as its strong but subtle visual effects, to showcase the intensity of the closed cases in the British legal system. Bana intuitively represented the ideals of an emotionally vulnerable lawyer who continuously seeks validation in his accomplishments in law, while Hall effortlessly portrayed Claudia as being professionally strong-willed, but also emotionally vulnerable. The film’s creative costume and set designs also innovatively emphasized the tense relationship between the two lawyers and their strong ideals about their work and personal affair, and their determination to not let anyone or anything stand in their way of protecting the client they swore to serve.