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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Closed Circuit

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Eric Bana and Ciaran Hinds star in a scene from the movie "Closed Circuit."
Polished but plodding, the British thriller "Closed Circuit" (Focus) also adopts a morally dubious stance toward marital fidelity. With an adulterous affair looming in the background of its plot, the film, as scripted by Steve Knight, acknowledges the damage wreaked by unfaithfulness, yet allows the prospect of a happy romantic outcome based on it to remain.

The sinful dalliance in question comes back to haunt lawyers Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) when circumstances reunite them as partners on a high-profile case.

In the wake of the bombing of a crowded London market, Turkish immigrant Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) has been accused of being the terrorist mastermind behind the attack. Because of the national security implications of the incident, Claudia has been appointed by the court to serve as Erdogan's special advocate. As such, she will have access to classified documents that his regular attorney will not.

When Erdogan's initial defense counsel commits suicide on the eve of the trial, hard-driving Martin is called on to succeed him, and thus accidentally pushed into unsought professional collaboration with Claudia. This is all the more inconvenient because their past connection is supposed to be an ethically disqualifying impediment to their current association. So they both compound their previous wrongdoing by lying about the matter under oath.

Assisted by Martin's old friend and senior colleague Devlin (Ciaran Hinds), Martin and Claudia uncover evidence that the case has been rigged by MI5, the U.K.'s military intelligence service. They manage to do so despite the best efforts of MI5's barely undercover representative in the situation, agent Nazrul Sharma (Riz Ahmed), to throw them off the scent.

The fact that the nation's attorney general, played by Jim Broadbent, is also out to thwart Martin and Claudia shows that the conspiracy they're attempting to reveal is supported at the highest levels of the legal establishment.

If that implication seems more than a little farfetched, it's not the only detail in director John Crowley's semi-paranoid picture that strains credulity. Knight's screenplay, after all, also portrays government spies as resorting to the murder of their fellow citizens on a routine basis.

Back on the marriage vows front, meanwhile, divorced dad Martin bemoans the harm his liaison with Claudia has done to his family life. But there's still a sunset to be walked into, and it's a pretty good bet who will be taking that hand-in-hand stroll.

The film contains occasional scenes of violence, mature themes, including adultery and suicide, at least one use of profanity and a handful of rough and crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Nativity of St. John the Baptist: Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John....” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “[Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). 
<p>John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life. </p><p>His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). </p><p>John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic. </p><p>The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people (“all Judea”) to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus. </p><p>Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah (chapters 49 through 53). John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us pray to Our Lady, that she may protect us. In times of spiritual upset, the safest place is within the folds of her garments.

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