White Chamber

Warning *minor spoilers*

Britain is poised on the edge of all-out civil war as the state battles with rebel militia when a young woman named Ruth (Shauna Macdonald) wakes in a blindingly white room. She is questioned and the room is used as an instrument of torture – it changes extremes of temperature, exudes acid and fire – but as Ruth talks to her captor she finds everything is not as it seems. So begins a complex and twisting story about captor and captive. Also stars Oded Fehr and Nicholas Farrell.

The film opens with shots depicting riots and protests across Britain, interspersed with a shot of Oded Fehr on top of a hill waiving a Union Flag whilst narrating the opening dialogue and a large subtitle across the screen saying “United Kingdom, Soon”. It cuts to white and the Ruth awakes in the “White Chamber” from there we see her interrogation by an initially unseen captor disguising their voice and then into a flashback that takes up a lot of the film detailing who she really is and how she got here.

Unfortunately whatever the filter was that they used to disguise the voice actually makes some of the dialogue borderline unintelligible, this is just the one of the many problems with White Chamber. The dialogue is very clunky and on the nose often becoming cliché, the characters are very one dimensional and are underdeveloped giving very little motivation other than “revenge”. It attempts to paint both sides as being morally grey and to give each side some sort of justification for their actions however horrific, be it torture or human experimentations. Unfortunately what results is that the audience is left with no one to root for, having the characters from either side be thoroughly unlikeable. The few characters that we do have are only given the minimum of background often just enough to push the plot along and any possible rousing speeches or emotional pleas to the audience are flat and ineffectual. It hints at an ongoing civil war that is left so unexplored that it doesn’t have any gravitas, you never feel like the characters are currently living in a war zone and fighting for their lives, which would in turn help to justify their supposed desperation. There are hints to other aspects of characters in some of their dialogues and actions but ultimately those plots points are abandoned and never even remotely explored.

Some of the cinematography is excellent and the locations used have created some interesting shots but it never continues on to feel like a stylistic choice for the film, more just thinking that ‘ooh this’ll be a cool shot’, this carries on into some of the makeup where it feels like gore for the sake of gore. Oded Fehr is enjoyable enough especially in his more manic phases but his wandering “English” accent is often distracting. Ultimately the films poor pacing, cliched story and hackneyed dialogue left me feeling cold and bored.

★★

Euan Tennant

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