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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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