Review: Reality (2023)

This was so interesting: a film adapted from the play Is This a Room, with script made up entirely of the transcript of the FBI’s interrogation of whistleblower Reality Winner. I reviewed for Ebert.

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9 Responses to Review: Reality (2023)

  1. Lyrie says:

    The beats that would have seemed very much “written” if it weren’t a literal transcript — pretty fascinating. I mean, that young woman pretty much had an interrogation room in her house. Of course, what a perfect play (the title!), and such a solid adaptation. I’m glad I didn’t miss it – I would have if I hadn’t seen it mentioned here. Thanks!

    • sheila says:

      // I mean, that young woman pretty much had an interrogation room in her house. //

      oh my God, that’s so true. lol what are the odds? here, let me welcome you into a totally creepy looking bare room I never go into!

      and I agree about the transcript – I just loved how they handled it – in the acting of it, but also how she inserted the shots of it being typed out. It might have been too much – or too obvious – but I didn’t think so. It just underlined the whole origin of the project!

      so glad you saw it, Lyrie!

      • Lyrie says:

        Yes, it was very smart – it allowed for some effects that might have seemed to come from nowhere otherwise – like when the disappear when names are redacted. Because the story is anchored by the few shots of the real Reality (come on!) and the transcripts, those moments seem justified, and not just stylistic. Coupled with the few shots of Fox News, it works on an almost unconscious level: they’re showing this story in a very matter of fact way, but we’re still invited to question (R)reality, even just a little bit.

        • sheila says:

          I mean seriously her name is Reality. WHAT.

          I questioned at first the use of the real pictures from her Instagram – and also the real photo the FBI shot of her outside her house – but then realized it was all of a piece with the use of the transcript. It kept it close to (R)reality. lol

          • Lyrie says:

            lol I know, I can imagine the moment the playwright saw this story, however than happened, and went ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. Like, unable to sleep until you’ve written the play, because come ON.

          • sheila says:

            Reality Winner. I mean …

        • sheila says:

          also I love how Sydney S played it – for 3/4s of it. she literally not once “seemed guilty”. I didn’t get the feeling she was hiding anything. I feel like she very easily could have played the sort of obvious “tells” – poker tells – to let us in on her secret. Nope. she seemed worried about her pets and assumed they were there about some other violation. (when of course she HAD done what they said she did. so Sydney is playing multiple layers of deniability. You know that Reality is not surprised they’ve showed up. On some level she has been expecting them.)

          It’s like she KNOWS she’s lying but she’s not playing the lie – at ALL. at least I didn’t clock her “playing the lie” if you know what I mean.

          • Lyrie says:

            Absolutely. I saw it as she’s lying but doesn’t feel like she’s lying because she’s really hoping it’s about something else, for as long as possible. Only the worry for the pets kind of gives it away – the thread, from the innocuous small talk to the moment of the arrest.

          • sheila says:

            Right – and her not being surprised they are there is probably the biggest “tell”. From all of the police interrogations I watch – the guilty ones are the ones who sit there answering questions without ever saying “why have you dragged me in here? what’s going on??” They KNOW why the cops are there. an innocent person would be like “holy SHIT why are you FBI guys on my lawn?? there’s got to be a mistake!”

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