Disclosure. Not the 1994 erotic thriller starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. Nor the 2020 documentary on Hollywood’s depiction of Transgender people. This Disclosure, directed by Michael Bentham, is a drama set in an affluent suburb somewhere in Australia.
Danny and Emily Bowman (Mark Leonard Winter and Matilda Ridgway) are journalists trying to figure out the next steps following a sexual assault on their four year old daughter. Politician Joel Chalmers (Tom Wren) and his wife Bek (Geraldine Hakewill) are the parents of the boy involved, and would like nothing more than to sweep this whole thing under the carpet. As the couples are long standing friends, a friendly chat might be all it would take to make this whole thing go away. For, you see, Joel is a good politician. His career could be in jeopardy if this got out etc etc, you see where this is going.
Disclosure shows how quickly this delicate situation can become encumbered by the baggage and agendas of the surrounding adults. They work quickly to discredit the accounts given by the children, then throw in blame and blackmail when that doesn’t work. The film uses Bek’s historic rape to explore the concept of victim blaming, and the way society can convince sexual assault victims that somehow they asked for it or could have prevented it.
The tagline “There are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth” refers to the two couples, building their own narratives to rationalise what has happened, erasing the voice of the child as they wrestle to have the upper hand. Disclosure utilises the relationship between politicians and journalists to illustrate a fluctuating power-dynamic. In doing so, it also illustrates the complexity of the relationship between government and the press.
Bentham takes a pressing matter (child-on-child violence; #metoo) and tries to illustrate it earnestly. However, Disclosure plays like a soap opera storyline and leans heavily on slow-motion as a way to create gravitas. It adds nothing for the most part, except perhaps the flower smashing segment, which echoes a scene from that 2011 Polanski dreck Carnage. Disclosure has many parallels with Carnage, though the trailer is more than enough to see this, so don’t bother with the whole of Carnage—it’s a bore. Essentially, both films see the parents take something that has happened between their children, and make it all about themselves.
For similar themes and more complex storylines see Rewind (2019) and The Slap (2015).
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