First Hit: An interesting education of the English court system.
Terrorism, spying, closed circuit cameras, and English law are featured in this film. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is a hard nosed independent English Barrister. He’s divorced, his former wife despises and controls when he can see his son and for how long – we guess for good reason.
This part of the film sets up the type of guy he is. Above all he’s independent. He’s had an affair with Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) another Barrister who has a long tradition of strong independence. They must both lie to be assigned to defend a perceived terrorist from prosecution by the government.
Briefly, in cases such as this, there is a public defender (Rose) and a private advocate (Simmons-Howe). When assigned, neither person can have contact with each other nor can they have had a past conflicted relationship with each other.
Because they were lovers, this means they couldn’t legally take these roles. However they both want to try this case, they lie to the judge and say there is no reason why they cannot work on this case. The interesting part of this film is that the evidence that each Barrister collects cannot be shared with the other. The worst part is that is that all secret evidence obtained by Simmons-Howe cannot be made public.
As the respective Barristers learn more about what really happened, they discover that it was the government’s own MI5 that was pulling the strings and that they don’t want to be embarrassed.
Bana is very effective as the smart, bull-headed, independent Barrister that wants the truth and really has a heart. Hall is wonderful as the Advocate and some of her interactions with a particular MI5 agent are priceless. Jim Broadbent, in a very limited role as the Attorney General, is sublime and cements the way the government deals with issues like this. Steven Knight wrote a good script in that it was also educational besides entertaining. John Crowley made effective use of portraying how spying and government control gets in the way of the truth.
Overall: Not a great film but certainly worth a look some Sunday evening.