FEEDBACK **** UK / Spain 2019 Dir: Pedro C Alonso. 97 mins
At the start of this intense, timely London-set thriller, station boss Anthony Head dismisses radio host Eddie Marsan’s long-running late-night talk show “The Grim Reality” as too bleak and contentious for Brexit-era listeners just wanting to be cheered up. Marsan, traumatised recently by an abduction / assault courtesy of right-wing thugs, subsequently has his show taken offline as the station is hijacked by masked strangers (Ivana Baquero, Richard Brake) demanding he obey their orders and confess all about an incident many years earlier.
Spanish writer-director Pedro C Alonso’s feature debut is mostly set in a single room and never leaves the confines of the radio station itself, refreshingly resisting the temptation to stage flashback sequences for the protagonist’s dramatic backstories. It does, however, unfold against a vividly captured backdrop of a divided Britain and the #metoo era as Marsan’s alleged past sins come back to haunt him. Marsan, one of the UK’s greatest working actors, is typically committed and riveting as his character transitions from an empathetic victim / loving dad to a man concealing secrets that transform our entire perception. Despite the very modern thematic trappings, at heart it’s a taut, pared-down, old-fashion thriller – albeit one punctuated by skull-crushing brutality and capped with a Paul Schrader-infused ironic conclusion. Brake and Baquero are interesting antagonists, even if their roles could use further fleshing out.
Review by Steven West