a film by Paul Oremland
2007 | 87 mins | UK
›› Surveillance - aka Surveillance 24/7 / US
gay Royals and surveillance, film noir style
Surveillance by Paul Oremland After a gap of nine years director Paul Oremland of Like It Is fame makes his long awaited return in this engaging, if unconventionally shot British thriller.

And it all began when gay IT teacher Adam fancied a night out clubbing, only to get more than he bargained for when his one-night stand turned out to be Jake; society photographer, son of a media mogul and boyfriend to ... well, that would be saying, but put it this way, there could well be blue blood running through his veins. All of which makes the powers that be, ill at ease. Then again, they are not alone, given the next day Jake promptly disappears, only to wind up dead. Realising that he could be next in line for the kill, Adam turns to an old university friend for help, in a move that may not be to his advantage, given budding television presenter Amy is out for a headline story. And the fact that she works for the Raven News Network owned by the father of his midnight encounter, only complicates matters further. Unsure of who to trust bar former lover Ben, in a bid of desperation Adam turns to The Saint; a man of Jake's acquaintance whom he hopes holds the answers to his unanswered questions.

Surveillance by Paul Oremland In spite of the opening proclamation citing that "the footage in this film is taken from surveillance cameras and CCTV," such is clearly not the case. All of which is a welcome relief, given it would otherwise imply that Big Brother has expanded his viewing into the cubicles found on the London gay sauna scene. Thankfully what is not in doubt is Oremland's love of the medium, having shot his work journalistic style, editing it together using an array of creative techniques from fake CCTV footage and spy-cams, to hand-held camera sequences, coupled with the like of mobile phone footage. Whether the result is to your liking however is open to question, for whilst emphasising the surveillance theme of the piece and here cue the line "you could pick up on a target getting on a train in Glasgow and track him all the way down to a shop in Oxford street," such nevertheless and perhaps for some could end up a distraction from the narrative itself.

And that's a shame, given this is a lush film noir, hooking you in from the onset with talk of government agents who do not mind breaking the law, if indeed they are not above it, underhanded goings on in the media, let alone a bit of pink blood at the heart of the monarchy. To that end, Séan Brosnan as Jake, Dawn Steele as Amy, Nicholas Jones as Lord Raven, together with Like It Is star Ian Rose as Ben offer fine support to Tom Harper, who delivers a natural sensitivity to the part of Adam; that of a man whose life is rapidly spiraling out of control. Yet and as somewhat expected, it is Simon Callow as St John who steals the show, revelling in the part of a disgruntled royal aide, armed as he is with some of the best lines in a film that delights in mixing suspense with comical undertones. Only should an element of comedy be present in a work of this nature?

Indeed and as a film that questions the line between personal privacy and a Big Brother state, Oremland has delivered a feature that is both entertaining and alarming, drip feeding us with fragments of the story, at times told flashback fashion, before assembling all the pieces in the final reel for our viewing pleasure. That this is but a work of fiction is not in doubt, although I dare say that conspiracy theorists will have a field day over whether certain aspects of the screenplay by Kevin Sampson are based more on fact, than fiction. All of which makes for a bold and innovative thriller that in raising the question of just how far Big Brother is capable of watching you, makes you wonder just how free from misuse and truly safe is the information that the state already holds on us?

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
Special Like It Is / Surveillance Double Feature Edition
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: 24.January.2011 / UK.
starring: Tom Harper, Dawn Steele, Séan Brenden Brosnan, Simon Callow, Nicholas Jones,
Abigail Hollick, Ian Rose, William Osborne, Michael Elwyn and Julian Date.
Copyright 2008 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #165
›› previous page | back to top | print me ‹‹
click for gay celluloid - home