Exposure (2023) Film Review | Movie-Blogger.com
Peter Cannon‘s Exposure is a brilliant film. Written as a character-driven idea, the film navigates smoothly through a grounded plot that never goes of its way to step on other territories than its own: this is a disguised drama that should never be considered as something else than a poor man’s ultimate succumbing under pressure. The film resembles a thriller, and sometimes action, and sometimes horror. But Cannon does a great job at staying within the boundaries that isn’t thrilling, but powerful in the world of modern storytelling: the mind can hold wicked monsters.
The film tells the story of Tanner, an IT worker that’s still recovering from trauma. He was kidnapped and tortured by… someone. He doesn’t know who it is, but he’s still obsessed with the aftermath, and more importantly, with the probability that this could happen again. Tanner was let go by the assailant and he doesn’t know why. Instead of going all-Oldboy he just wants to forget. Impossible.
His wife is part of Tanner’s living hell of a life. She suffers scrutiny as he checks and rechecks his food to see if he isn’t being poisoned. She’s desperate and doesn’t know what to do. She asks Tanner to try exposure therapy, when they find out Tanner’s kidnapper will be released from prison. Tanner’s OCD gets way out hand when his support group also starts participating in the latest scheme to get rid of his obsession. In Exposure, control is a big thing, and the film goes a long way in letting the audience know that in case of chronic OCD, control is a mere suggestion.
The first act of Exposure primarily consists of Douglas Smith‘s showing every bit of his dramatic abilities as a performer. The young actor is extraordinary in the role, and he proves it early on in the film as he compiles all treats of the OCD spectrum in the characterization of Tanner, a young worker convinced something’s out to get him. Few films of the genre, and in independent cinema, allow for actors to dominate the screen completely, even as their characters are introduced. But Exposure is undoubtedly Smith’s show. There’s a future here, and no one can deny the actor’s strength and range in performance.
Ultimately, Tanner decides to face his demons, and follow the advice of “discomfort’s the point”. But is it truly effective of a method considering is mental stability? Or are we just rooting for him to face and destroy what makes him act the way he does? Exposure isn’t traditional because it uses fiction as a resource and drives Tanner to rely on extreme methods that don’t seem very helpful. Those who don’t agree with this aspect of the film, will probably be better off watching a documentary on the subject. And it’s OK. This is Cannon’s controlled environment in which fear represents a real thing to be confronted with.
We won’t spoil the rest of the film, because Cannon takes a linear story and truly builds something interesting out of the idea. Tanner’s recovery is inevitable, but at what cost? In that discussion, the film concludes with a high note. One that you wouldn’t expect, and one in which Tanner realizes perhaps there were some decisions he should have considered some time ago. Also the film’s writer, Cannon decidedly stays outside of tragedy because he’s keen on realism and commenting about a real-life issue. It’s why the way he concludes the film feels surprising, and yet inevitable under the circumstances. Yes, you will have some questions in the end, but if Tanner’s on the path to being under control of himself, are those questions really important?