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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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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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