Film Review

Reality

todayJune 2, 2023 88

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By – Nick Adrian

For fans of All the President’s Men, Snowden, and conspiracy stories

In 2017, former U.S. Air Force member and NSA translator Reality Winner was arrested for leaking an intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 United States Presidential Elections. Her interrogation, held and recorded by two FBI agents, R. Wallace Taylor and Justin C. Garrick was the basis for a 2019 stage play titled Is This A Room, which in turn was the basis for director Tina Satter’s debut film, Reality.

Sydney Sweeney stars as the titular informant, who has just arrived at home after a grocery run when she is met by two FBI agents in the beginning of the film. The remainder of its brief runtime is spent almost entirely in interrogation. Though the plot itself is bare, Satter’s direction – including a foreboding score, digital “blips” that pause the action mid-sentence (representing the redacted portions of the transcript), and claustrophobic cinematography – takes what is normally a routine briefing of the subject and turns it into a tightly-wound, tense thriller that will even make the audience anxiously squirm in their seats.

With a script taken entirely from the real FBI interrogation transcriptions and the action taking place almost entirely inside an empty room in the subject’s house, Reality sheds light on a biting moment in contemporary U.S. history without making judgement. Rather, it lets the audience decide whether Winner was a treasonous trained whistleblower or a passionate patriot disgusted with the state of her country.

Now streaming on Max

Written by: Nick Adrian

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