Saturday 28 October 2023

Movie Review: Reality (2023)

Genre: Biographical Drama
Director: Tina Satter
Starring: Sydney Sweeney
Running Time: 82 minutes

Synopsis: The setting is Augusta, Georgia, in 2017. Reality Winner (Sydney Sweeney) is a multi-lingual government intelligence contractor and ex-US Air Force member. She arrives home to find FBI Agents Garrick (Josh Hamilton) and Taylor (March├ínt Davis) waiting with search warrants. Over the next several hours, they interrogate her at home to determine if she was the source of a classified intelligence document leak.

What Works Well: Director and co-writer Tina Satter adapts her own play into an effectively sparse, three-person, one-set drama. The script is entirely derived from the FBI's actual recorded transcript of Reality's interrogation, and therefore enjoys a peculiar mix of mundane and grave dialogue exchanges as Reality journeys from denial through selective omission to the truth. Sydney Sweeney is magnetic in the central role, conveying Reality's cautious stance when confronted by expert investigators, but more importantly the thoughts simultaneously spinning inside her head. 

What Does Not Work As Well: The reliance on the transcript as a narrative foundation imposes cinematic limitations. The contents and importance of the classified documents are held back for dramatic effect, and then downplayed once revealed, eroding understanding of core motivations.    

Conclusion: A low-key but still gripping battle of wits in an unfurnished room.

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