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Reckoning

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HIDDEN AGENDA: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
American activists Paul Sullivan (Brad Dourif) and his fiancee Ingrid Jessner (Frances McDormand) travel to Belfast to probe allegations of brutal human rights abuses by British security forces. When Paul is killed under mysterious circumstances, the official reports list him as an I.R.A. accomplice. But Ingrid and British policeman Paul Kerrigan (Brian Cox) question the findings and begin to uncover a shocking high-level conspiracy. Now, with their safety in jeopardy, they must decide whether to risk everything to reveal the truth.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Revisiting the bad, bad days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Hidden Agenda is set in the early 80s and canvasses some of the dastardly things the British did. It's made with the flaggelatory ardour that Ken Loach brings to all his films, a hard edged realism pounded into the mortar of cinema with naturalism. We're tested ...

Brad Dourif is given a role that suits his temperament and gives him a chance to shine in a straight dramatic role - albeit brief. He is formidable and riveting to watch. Frances McDormand doesn't miss a trick as his fiancee and collaborator in a search for truth and justice that is far tougher than they could ever have imagined. Brian Cox, whose screen authority has never been in doubt, makes a powerful contribution as the British policeman who doesn't follow the party (country) line. His character is based on the British cop, Stalker, who resigned and went public with his findings in 1982.

The film is eerily well made, taking us back to those ugly times in which humanity seems to have been obliterated by rightousness - on both sides; by hatred and by blind violence. The Brits were big shits, and the IRA were big shits, too. For all that, Loach is a talented filmmaker and he makes it impossible to look away. At times it's like a police procedural - at other times it's a blast of venom. When citizens fear the authorities, it's oppression. But the story spreads into international politics and dirty tricks.

It's a movie that editorially argues against the ends justifying the means for supposedly democratic systems: but it's a terrific thriller as well.

Published January 15, 2009



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

HIDDEN AGENDA: DVD (M)
(UK, 1990)

CAST: Frances McDormand, Brian Cox, Brad Dourif, Mai Zetterling, Bernard Archard, John Benfield, Bernard Bloch

PRODUCER: Eric Fellner

DIRECTOR: Ken Loach

SCRIPT: Jim Allen

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Clive Tickner

EDITOR: Jonathan Morris

MUSIC: Stewart Copeland

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Martin Johnson

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.33:1; DD 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Shock

DVD RELEASE: January 10, 2009







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