Disclosure (1994) 4/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 74.2
Genre: Thriller
Duration: 128 mins
Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, Donald Sutherland

Michael Douglas stars as an IT executive who struggles to keep his job when his new boss and former girlfriend (Demi Moore) accuses him of sexual harassment after he spurns her advances at a late night meeting. Barry Levinson’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel could’ve been dismissed as just another sexual thriller coming as it did on the back of Douglas’ controversial Basic Instinct, but thanks to some delicious plot and character construction, it becomes a cleverly gauged and robust investigation into sexual politics set against a colourful background of corporate intrigue.

Douglas was always a dab hand at playing the wounded cad but he puts a nice spin on the concept in this movie by playing a dedicated family man who, with the exception of partaking in a few risky water cooler jokes and some presumptive behaviour towards female colleagues, has put his wildcatting years behind him. As the splash of ice water from his past, Moore is impressively biting, and her character is used exquisitely to phase plot and commentary multiple times over. Some impressive acting talent rounds off the cast with Donald Sutherland and the always excellent Dylan Baker playing the ruthless head honcho and slimey lackey respectively and Roma Maffia weighing in as an expert sexual harassment attorney (“She’d change her name to “TV Listings” to get it into the paper”). Most importantly for a dramatic thriller, the cast and director are all working from the same page. A persistent yet delicate intertwining of the various subplots arises not just through their characters’ energetic dialogue but also their mannerisms and the way in which Levinson’s lens seems to nonchalantly capture them.

But what truly sets Disclosure apart from the standard thriller is the confidently skewed approach from its director. The palette of soft colours and generous lighting combine with eye catching production design to give the film a distinct personality which Ennio Morricone’s imaginative and low humming score keys in on. This furnishes the proceedings with a terrific sense of excitement in place of more traditional physical drama and prevents the 24 carat mind-games from setting too dry a tone. Enriching this context further is the 90’s tech boom, in the middle of which, the story is set. As usual, Crichton gauged the future of digital application with a certain degree of insight but more important than any such historical relevance is the manner in which it helps sets a modern “verge of the future” vibe and so augments the more updated conceptions of sexual harassment that the film presents us with. Disclosure has been unfairly pigeon holed over the years as everything from a run of the mill thriller to a piece of fluff. If anyone cares to inspect it, they will see it’s much more.

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