movieThemes: Alan Rickman
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CLOSET LAND (1991)

Cast: Alan Rickman, Madeleine Stowe
Director: Radha Bharadwaj
Producers: Janet Myers
Screenplay: Radha Bharadwaj
Cinematography: Bill Pope
Music: Richard Einhorn
Approximate Running Time: 99 minutes
Warnings: Swearing, semi-nudity, implied violence, disturbing content
Rating:

Category: Psychological Thriller

The Plot: A children's bookwriter (Madeleine Stowe) has been abducted and subjected to torture by a nameless interrogator (Alan Rickman). She strongly protests her innocence as the interrogator tries to get her to admit to conveying political messages in her books which are in collusion with conspirators trying to bring the government down.

Comment: This film was made in response to a comment in a report made by Amnesty International in 1990, that over the the world's countries still torture their own citizens. Needless to say, this is an uncomfortable and unpleasant film to watch as Stowe is tortured in an attempt to make her confess to something she clearly isn't. It ultimately becomes a test of wills between torturer's desire to break the victim and get her to admit to her underlying political intent, and the victim's strength of her convictions that she is innocent and will not confess to something she is not. The stark but modern room where the interrogations take place all adds to the evil atmosphere (although one imagines a true 'torture chamber' would be less artistic...).

Alan Rickman is truly disturbing as the nameless interrogator. Despite the films dark content, this is obviously the type of role Rickman can excel in. For his victim, he is not one person, but three, and he plays all three against eachother with menacing intent. He slips effortlessly from one character to the next (watch for the scene 50 minutes into the film where he blindfolds Stowe and plays both a victim and torturer himself! Magnificent!), playing not only for the benefit of the victim but us, the unseen audience whose hearts go out to the victim as she is terrorized first psychologically and then physically...

The victim is played with conviction by Madeleine Stowe. No matter what horrors are inflicted upon her by her interrogator, she quietly exhibits the strength to hang on to her belief in her innocence. As the interrogation continues, Stowe stoically delivers dignified strength and vulnerability as more and more of her identity is stripped away from her character. It is a fascinating thing to watch.

Not for the faint hearted is Closet Land; the psychological terror will no doubt affect some viewers of this film. Whether the situation is true or not, Closet Land is an interesting and disturbing drama. But, it you want the same scenario jazzed up 10 years later, with us against the nameless "They,' then I recommend the film, Cube, over this one...

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