THE REPORT – Review by Diane Carson

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The Report charts the Senate investigation of CIA Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

Following the tragedy and trauma of 9/11, California Senator Dianne Feinstein charges staff assistant Daniel J. Jones to investigate and verify, or refute, information regarding the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Jones becomes obsessed with his task as high-level operatives and officials dissemble and misrepresent, flat out lie and withhold information. Single-minded, Jones refuses to abandon his critical inquiry.

Favorably compared to All the President’s Men and Spotlight in its suspenseful narrative, The Report moves briskly from Dan’s initial charge to his multiple attempts to track down the facts about Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, that is, torture at black sites around the world, including waterboarding, sleep and food deprivation, coffin-box confinement, and excessive noise, heat, or cold. What he discovers—as he also learns to refute the usefulness of any of it—leads him on a dangerous hunt. As perilous, the closer Jones gets to the truth, the more the political stakes increase as well as the CIA ‘s targeting him.

In fact, Jones’ six years of work resulting in 6700 pages constituting the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA Torture, based on 6.3 million pages of evidence, will not be available to the public until 2028. Only 525 heavily redacted pages can now be read. Writer/director Scott Z. Burns navigates with clarity and subdued outrage through this ethical morass with compositions and sound intensifying the tension.

As Dan Jones, Adam Driver expresses the dismay, the tenacity, and the idealism needed to convincingly present the importance of the stakes through the Bush and Obama presidencies. He deserves an Oscar nomination. Annette Bening gives her best chameleon-like performance, verbally and nonverbally channeling Senator Feinstein. Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll, Linda Powell, and Michael C. Hall, among others, shine in supporting roles.

At the Telluride Film Festival, Driver passionately spoke about the importance of uncovering such reprehensible practices, adding that “what our morals are represents us to the world.” As relevant today as then, The Report reminds everyone of the critical importance of examining hidden activity and making it available for public scrutiny.

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Diane Carson

Diane Carson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, has reviewed films for over 25 years and has covered the Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Palm Springs, and Sundance festivals. She writes for KDHX, 88.1 FM. St. Louis’ community radio. One of the founders of the St. Louis International Film Festival, she continues to serve on juries. A past president of the University Film and Video Association, she taught film studies and production at St. Louis Community College and at Webster University. Her new book, written with two colleagues, is “Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation,” Wayne State U. Press, 2014.