With this year’s explosive political-drama, The Report, director-writer-producer Scott Z. Burns crafts a deeply-enthralling look into the American Senates investigation of the CIA and their use of torture practices post 9-11.
Spearheading this investigation is Daniel Jones (a remarkable Adam Driver); a senate official who has dedicated his career, and countless nights of sleep, to investigating counter-terrorism. Jones’ belief in American political excellence starts to unfurl the deeper he digs into the CIA’s use of ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ on terrorist suspects.
These barbaric techniques, a reactionary response to an America rebuilding itself following a national tragedy, include sleep-deprivation, physical violence, waterboarding and humiliation. Scenes involving torture are present in The Report and offer a fleeting glimpse into the cruel (and ineffective) nature of the practice.
The once admiring eyes of Jones now gaze upon the White House with discontent. The difficulty had by Jones with his investigation into the CIA, an entity that acts in secret and separately to the Senate Intelligence Committee, is worn impeccably on the face of Driver. His performance is subdued yet powerful and is matched in equal measure by Annette Bening’s portrayal of American political figure Dianne Feinstein.
Driver embodies the persevering excellence of a judicial system willing to regulate its failures. He transforms what could have been a scathing assessment of America into something optimistic. Burns, a filmmaker no stranger to exploring the power of investigation, corroborates this orthodox by giving insight into the CIA’s decision-making process.
Burns provides balance through understanding the CIA’s intentions, but by no means is he forgiving. Shots blur in and out of focus to highlight the encrypted way the CIA go about their operation. He uses the CIA’s efforts to bury skeletons to show the importance of journalism – following suit to Spotlight and The Post – and ask big questions regarding the accountability of an entity that can disregard human rights and operate in secret.
How The Report unfolds takes from the ‘Making a Murder’ style guide of storytelling. Complicit in their cover-up, the outrageous actions depicted by the CIA become more preposterous than the last, with The Report able to use audience disbelief to create an intriguing – albeit scary – exploration on modern politics.
The Report screens in selected cinemas from 14 November 2019. For more information, visit: www.transmissionfilms.com.au for details.
Image: The Report (film still) – courtesy of Transmission Films
Review: Hagan Osborne