Chicago Film Festival: Surveillance

Dir: Paul Oremland

Actrs: Mostly unknowns with a great performance by Simon Callow (who you might know as the overweight gay guy who dies in Four Weddings and a Funeral)

A young teacher with a secret gay nightlife. A rich (sometimes gay) playboy with a connection to the royal family is kidnapped and murdered. London’s incredible network of surveillance cameras are the only leads.

The entire film is done on CCTV and surveillance cameras, cameraphones, handhelds, etc. While this had a very direct tie-in to the plot and the point of the movie (thus a plus), it also lends itself to a very amateur look (a minus). Similar to when you’re watching a well-produced, well-photographed TV show and then a super cheap commercial comes on and the filming is just flat / no depth / feels two-dimensional. While part of the point of this is the “it could happen to anyone” and “you never know what’s being caught on film” and “we’re being watched/ photographed/ surveilled at all times”…on the other hand, you’re in a theater watching it on the big screen, and it just doesn’t have the visual zing of a more traditionally produced, high quality camera & film movie.

Raises some very intriguing questions. Good performances. (The lead is a little hottie.) A very 20/20 investigative feel. Really enjoyed the Q&A with the director afterward. Some of his conversations with MI-5 and MI-6 were quite…astonishing. And followed by “I never knew whether to believe anything they were telling me. Those guys get so caught up in their own mystique.” My only quibble would be: is there a way to do this, but have it look better, yet still have the “feel” of the surveillance cameras?

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