Adelaide Film Festival 2020: Disclosure

Director: Michael Bentham

2019

Australia

84 minutes

More info here.

Disclosure takes place over a single afternoon, poolside at a beautiful villa somewhere in the Victorian countryside. What starts as a friendly if dull exchange between two 40-something Aussie couples quickly descends into a heated and tense confrontation. Based on a true story, Disclosure follows two sets of parents as they try to navigate the challenging situation that arises when the 4-year-old daughter of one couple accuses the 9-year-old son of the other of sexual abuse. The predicament is complicated by the fact the son’s father is a politician currently campaigning for election.    

Disclosure comes across like a stage production, one long sequence interjected with monologues and briefer, private interactions. The cast does a commendable job at steadily building an atmosphere of frustration and anger which climaxes at the end of the film. Each character is also portrayed with nuance and I found myself sympathising with each parent at different stages of the story.

The passive-aggressive, ingenuine niceties of a certain section of middle-class, Anglo-Australia is conveyed well. Accurately depicting cringeworthy political rhetoric, we are reminded on numerous occasions that (to paraphrase) ‘In this community, people look out for each other and trust each other. Things like this just don’t happen.’  

Brief moments of comic relief, mostly in the form of the politician’s bodyguard, Steve, repeatedly turning up at the wrong times, were welcome and helped to take the edge of what was otherwise an emotionally intense film.

Overall, Disclosure held my attention constantly, and explored the murky, tough, little talked about issue of child-on-child abuse. It brought this topic to light with sophistication.

3/5 stars.

Katerina Grypma

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