The Movie Waffler First Look Review - DISCLOSURE | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - DISCLOSURE

disclosure 2020 review
Two suburban couples meet to discuss an allegation of abuse involving their children.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Michael Bentham

Starring: Matilda Ridgway, Mark Leonard Winter, Geraldine Hakewill, Tom Wren

disclosure 2020 poster

They’re a right pain in the neck, other people’s kids are. With your own brood, there is a sense of order. You’ve set the boundaries. You have a honed intuition of their character and behaviour. A certain amount of familial control and understanding abides. Other kids: forget it. They’re as unknowable as aliens. Say you are with your niece and nephew in the park; masses of kids running amok on the climbing frame, the swings, etc. You stand on the edge of the playground with the other parents/guardians, sometimes attempting small talk, but generally praying for the moment the kids get bored and you can go home. If one of yours is climbing too high, or gets into a scuffle, you know how to deal with them. But what about other kids? What are you meant to say if some kid pushes your niece off the swings, and that child’s parent does nothing? What if someone’s kid is using bad language? You have to wade in, of course you do, but it is awkward. However, even worse than having to grasp the nettle of another parent’s negligence, is when a random adult starts mouthing off at your kid for some perceived indiscretion. Shade on your authority!

disclosure 2020 review

Writer/director Michael Bentham’s social drama Disclosure explores this pressing social dynamic to the nth degree. We open in slo-mo middle class Australia, the drowsy camera taking in white fences, manicured greenery, little children ushered across the road by a lollipop lady, rebounding in the air via a garden trampoline. It is the heterosexual dream: a safe, affluent community which is populated by families as similarly aspirational as your own. The bourgeois structure of the community is so tight and brittle that you imagine one little crack could spoil it all: the façade, the unspoken social contracts. Think what a big crack could do…

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - Lynn + Lucy ]

Disclosure’s plot is based around an accusation made by the four year old female child of one couple - Danny (Mark Leonard Winter), a broadsheet journalist and Emily Bowman (Matilda Ridgway), a documentary filmmaker - against the nine-year-old son of their friends Bek (Geraldine Hakewill) and Tom Chalmers (Joel Chalmers), a rising politician. Bentham delicately skirts the details, but the accusation is of a sexual nature. We pick up six weeks after the incident has been disclosed, with Bek and Tom visiting the Bowman’s with a view to dissuade the couple from reporting the incident to the social services.

disclosure 2020 review

What follows is a chamber piece between the couples - wherein the chamber is the privileged enclave of a landscaped garden with a turquoise swimming pool and rattan furniture. What begins as outwardly polite pleasantries, descends over the course of the film into an increasingly desperate stalemate between the two couples. Of course, Danny and Emily believe their little girl and are duly upset, but at the same time Bek and Tom maintain their boy’s innocence, arguing that the space between the alleged incident and the disclosure is evidence of the girl making it all up. Of course, no parent wants to face the possibility that such a thing could happen (I mean, you’re watching it and you hope that it didn’t). But, furthermore, beneath that is the loyalty parents have to their children, and the lengths which they will go to protect them…

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - Family Romance, LLC ]

Before we even get to that stage though there is the veneer of politeness, the social foxtrot of "you look fabulous" and proffered dahlias. Bentham introduces the delicate shiftings of status and stability when the Chalmers turn up unannounced, Tom’s bodyguard in tow, catching the Bowmans in flagrante delicto (nude in their back garden). Is there any more insidious a modern social power play than turning up unannounced? The conversation that follows between the couples is deeply, preciously layered. Tom has his status to consider, while Danny is relying upon working with him to write the book which could make his name. There is also the lingering liberal concern on the behalf of Emily that besmirching Tom’s career could damage the good work he is doing with refugees. Lurking too are the respective sexual skeletons of the couples: porn addiction, incestual abuse, and video-recorded carnality.

disclosure 2020 review

The latter is a smoking gun which is introduced immediately, when we see, mainly through the dilating focus of a handheld camera, the Bowman’s filming themselves having a hearty shag. It is the sort of cinema sex that you feel you shouldn’t be looking at: intimate, ‘feels real’, and goes on for an uncomfortable length of time. For a film predicated upon dialogue and interaction, Disclosure is also vividly cinematic throughout. There is a supreme confidence to Bentham’s camera, capturing sensitive facial flickers, switching from tight intimacy to confrontational mid shots. It is staggering to think that this is a debut feature. Despite the actuality that the film revolves around the singular, unspeakable incident, it never becomes repetitive; Bentham further prises the fissure caused by the disclosure to explore defining facets of this society. One such aspect is the accusation that by having a vivid, healthy sex life (involving- go on!- pegging) the Bowmans are being somehow negligent in their responsibilities: this idea that when people become parents, they need to subsume all other aspects of their lives and individuality. Confrontational, unflinching and inconveniently truthful, you’ll be thinking about Disclosure for a long time to come.

Disclosure is on US VOD June 30th and DVD July 7th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2020 movie reviews