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.