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Sexual harassment is about power. When did I have the power? When?
Disclosure is directed by Barry Levinson and co-adapted to screenplay by Paul Attanasio and Michael Crichton from Crichton's own novel of the same name. It stars Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, Donald Sutherland, Roma Maffia, Dylan Baker, Caroline Goodall and Rosemary Forsyth. Music is scored by Ennio Morricone.
Tom Sanders (Douglas) is an executive at DigiCom, a high-tech computer company, who hopes that now it's finally his time to get promotion. Passed over for an outsider, he's further irked when it turns out to be Meredith Johnson (Moore), an old passionate flame of his from years previously. When Meredith arranges for a meeting between the two later that evening, Tom finds himself sexually harassed by her. Spurning her aggressive overtures, Tom is shocked to learn the next day that she has filed a charge of sexual harassment against him. He naturally counters the charge, but this opens up a can of worms for both him and the future of DigiCom.
The 1990s practically belonged to Michael Crichton, it seemed for a time that everything he wrote was adapted to the big screen for some form of entertainment. With Jurassic Park still warm and still garnering bucket loads of cash, two other Crichton adaptations worked their way into theatres; both of which were a world away from the family friendly extravaganza of Jurassic Park. One was Rising Sun, a messy wasted potential of a movie, the other was Disclosure, a zeitgeist snatcher that seized the moment.
The topic, and the novelty of flipping the gender aggressor, was always going to make Disclosure of much interest, thus the film and the novel made big money: aided still further by the hot casting of Douglas and Moore, who were still draw cards in the early 90s. Crichton, after being displeased with other adaptations of his work, got big say on the screenplay as a written project. So with director Levinson in tow, he set about pushing the buttons of his audience, attempting to continue the heated debates that were brought about previously from Douglas' Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct. If it's Crichton's or Levinson's fault that it didn't work out that way? I'm not sure, but fact is, is that Disclosure really wasn't that potent back then, and certainly now it's not even lukewarm.
There's too much techno babble going on, and an over keenness to stick the nose up at the big business vultures picking the flesh off of the lesser minions. Entering the last half hour of the film, it's easy to forget there has actually been a sexual harassment case! Here's the crux of the matter, if going in to it for a first time viewing expecting this to be a powder-keg of sexual harassment muckiness and legal intrigue, then you are in for a big disappointment. I know, because I was one of the paying patrons at the theatre back in 94! You sense that one of the makers got a bit carried away
Yet the film still has much going for it if stripped of that expectation, not least that it packs a pile of tension in that last half hour and the finale is rather rewarding. I'd go as far to say I'm a fan of the film, but it's not the film I originally went to see! There's a trio of interesting and differing female characters at the front of the narrative, even if Moore's stair-master vixen isn't exactly developed beyond being a bitch, and the virtual reality sequences have an appealing charm about them. The cast are turning in good ones, with a notable shout out to Caroline Goodall who wisely underplays it as the wife. While the interior set design (Gary Lewis/Joseph Hodges) for the DigiCom HQ is wonderful with its 90s excess of glass meeting mirrors and open spaces. Which leaves us with what?
A film that is not what you expect! Which in this case is both disappointing and a surprise. 7/10
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