Dir: Tina Satter | Cast Sydney Sweeney, Josh Hamilton, Marchant Davies | US Drama 83′
A whistleblowing psychological drama that traps us for most of its running time within the confines of a small room and other drab locations to tell the true story of Reality Winner, an American NSA contractor who in 2017 divulged confidential top secret intelligence that revealed her country’s knowledge of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.
Satter’s impressive feature debut is based on her own stage play ‘Is This a Room’ and revolves around an interrogation between two male FBI agents and Reality, an ambitious and highly intelligent linguist multi-linguist, sensitively played Sydney Sweeney. The dialogue is actually taken from the FBI’s transcripts of what was actually said, and demonstrates just how persuasive the men become in gradually breaking down a suspect until they achieve their aims.
It all starts in 2017 when Reality (Sweeney) is doorstepped at her home by FBI agents Garrick (Josh Hamilton) and Taylor (Marchant Davis), who present a search warrant and then start a menacing interrogation. Reality readily engages with their line of questioning as her house is searched and her telephone confiscated until it gradually emerges that she is a suspect in the disclosure of highly sensitive information. At times stranger than fiction, Reality is an absorbing film that blends political thriller with fantasy drama with striking lighting effects and sound design. Sydney Sweeney is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the title role. MT
NOW IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE from 2 June 2023 | BERLINALE PANORAMA 2023