›› Surveillance - aka Surveillance 24/7 ‹‹

a film by Paul Oremland.

2007 | 87 mins | UK.

a perceptive take on the ever increasing surveillance state.

Dave says:

Do you ever fancy a night out clubbing? Well, you're not the only one who's up for a night on the tiles, only here gay IT teacher Adam (Tom Harper) gets more than he bargained for when his one-night stand turned out to be Jake (Sean Brosnan); a 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 - uncomfortable, to put it mildly. Then again, they're not alone, given the next day Jake promptly disappears, only to wind up dead. Realizing 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 (Dawn Steele) 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 aka Ian Rose of Oremland's Like It Is fame, in a bid of desperation Adam turns to The Saint (Simon Callow); a man of Jake's acquaintance who may hold the answer to many an unanswered question.

In short, this is a but a perceptive take on the ever increasing surveillance state that we live in, delivered film noir style. Thankfully and in spite of the opening proclamation citing that "the footage in this film is taken from surveillance cameras and CCTV", such is evidently not the case. All of which is a welcome relief, given it would otherwise imply that Big Brother has expanded his cameras into the cubicles found on the London gay sauna scene. What is not in doubt is Oremland's love of the medium, having shot his work journalistic style, cleverly editing it using an array of creative techniques from fake CCTV footage and spy cams, to handheld camera sequences, coupled with the like of mobile phone footage. Whether the result is to your liking is somewhat 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", this approach could end up for some a distraction from the narrative itself.

And that would be a shame, given this engaging work not only hooks you in with the story of the shady goings on of government agents and the media, but with the compelling tale of pink blood at the heart of the monarchy. To that end and whilst the trio of Brosnan, Harper and Steele delight in their roles, alongside Nicholas Jones as Lord Raven, by no surprise it's Simon Callow who steals the show, revelling in his portayal of a disgruntled royal aide, armed as he is with some of the best lines in the film, one that delights in mixing suspense with comic undertones.

That this feature has a serious point to make about just how safe and indeed free from misuse is the information that the state holds on you, is not in doubt. Yet it's a line of questioning that's overplayed, much to the detriment of the intriguing issue of how the monarchy would react to a gay royal prepared to say it, like it is and the relationship therein with his male lover. Still Oremland stays true to his theme, carefully feeding the viewer fragments of the story, at times told flashback fashion, before assembling all of the cinematic clues for the big reveal. The result is a bold and innovative thriller that dares to question the thin line between personal privacy and a Big Brother state, although as to whether or not certain aspects of the screenplay by Kevin Sampson are based more on fact, than fiction, is clearly open to debate. Thought-provoking; undoubtedly, if somehow falling short of the tense drama it could have been.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› revised: Saturday, 14th November, 2020.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

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Copyright 2020 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #165 - revised
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