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Closet Land

The highly theatrical Closet Land, imaginatively produced on a modest $2.5 million, addresses the horror of political torture. It's a harrowing, focused two-character piece by first-time director Radha Bharadwaj.

The highly theatrical Closet Land, imaginatively produced on a modest $2.5 million, addresses the horror of political torture. It’s a harrowing, focused two-character piece by first-time director Radha Bharadwaj.

Entire thing takes place in a gleaming, stylish, high-tech chamber, with a man (Alan Rickman) trying to break the will of a woman (Madeleine Stowe). Despite the claustrophobic setup, a great deal occurs to hold one’s interest.

Rickman as interrogator is no ordinary brute but a complex, highly civilized man who displays a range of emotions and talents, including the ability to voice-act other people to confuse his blindfolded victim.

Stowe is a physically captivating victim with a fierce attachment to justice. Given a chance early on to escape, she stays and demands an apology. It’s a costly error.

Story has Stowe, an author of children’s books, dragged from her bed to face a servant of the government (Rickman) who accuses her of peddling subversive ideas to children in the guise of innocent stories. At issue is her work in progress, Closet Land, about a little girl whose mother leaves her locked in a closet.

Rickman deserves a great deal of notice for his powerfully controlled, multifaceted performance. Stowe displays some flash and backbone, but not enough to make this a truly engaging match.

Closet Land

  • Production: Imagine. Director Radha Bharadwaj; Producer Janet Meyers; Screenplay Radha Bharadwaj; Camera Bill Pope; Editor Lisa Churgin; Music Philip Glass (sup.), Richard Einhorn;; Art Director Eiko Ishioka
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 93 MIN.
  • With: Madeleine Stowe Alan Rickman