I saw this movie only a few days ago at a convention, and was moved to think about a side of torture tactics that I had never examined. The power of mental abuse can surely override any physical abuse, and that is shown through Madeline Stowe's wondrous acting in this movie. Likewise, Alan Rickman brings to the screen a marvelous portrayal of a ruthless government interrogator. It is interesting, though, even while he tortures Stowe's character, how you see a bit of himself shine through his terrorist personality. It grabbed me, in the scene where she is blindfolded, and he is pretending to be someone else, how he lets the mask fall from his face even as his voice continues his work.
The basis of the plot is this: A children's book writer (Stowe) is arrested on the premise that her books hold subversive political ideas, trying to get children to go against the government. The writer continues to deny these allegations, even as she is questioned and eventually abused physically and mentally by a government agent (Rickman). The showing of these torture techniques is disturbing, and probably should not be watched by those who are squeamish about such things.
The film was made in partnership with Amnesty International in the early 90's. On the surface of this movie, I would have to agree with all their policies, but as with any movie of this sort, a viewer should not support the organization purely on the face of the movie screen, but it should spur the viewer to outside research. I believe that is what this movie does for many of us.
The upshot of this: I would say I enjoyed the movie, but 'enjoy' is not quite the right word. I would watch this movie again if the opportunity arose, and would also recommend it to anyone who has a taste for realistically disturbing movies.
4 stars out of 5.
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