Cross Richard Linklater’s Tape with Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, add a dash of Charlie McDowell’s The One I Love, and you may get an idea of what to expect from Michael Bentham’s ambitiously minimalist debut feature Disclosure (not to be confused with the 1994 Michael Douglas/Demi Moore-starrer, which was decidedly the opposite of “ambitious” or “minimalist”). While the Australian drama certainly invites comparisons to those films, it’s a unique, highly relevant gem that revolves around a complex quandary, summarized in the film’s opening quote: “There are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth.”
Emily struggles to keep her towel on, as the Chalmers plead for the Bowmans to withdraw their allegations.
Disclosure opens with a prolonged shot of a couple – Danny (Mark Leonard Winter) and Emily (Matilda Ridgway) Bowman – doing the deed whilst recording themselves on camera. Several years later, they’re enjoying a skinny-dip session by their pool, when their friends – local politician Joel (Tom Wren) and his wife Bek (Geraldine Hakewill) Chalmers – arrive unexpectedly, catching them off-guard and butt-naked. There’s awkwardness and tension. Emily struggles to keep her towel on, as the Chalmers plead for the Bowmans to withdraw their allegations.
A couple of weeks before, Danny and Emily’s four-year-old daughter, Natasha, claimed that Ethan, Chalmers’ nine-year-old son… did something terrible to her. The Chalmers adamantly believe that Natasha made the story up. Emily is outraged, ready to call social services on them; Danny is more skeptical. “They’re a decent family,” he mumbles hopefully, “we have to trust that they’ll do the right thing.” “What about the next victim?” Emily demands. “Those are the consequences if we don’t do anything.” The couples engage in an increasingly-fiery back-and-forth, culminating in a borderline-farcical sequence involving cellphones – among other things – being thrown into the Bowman swimming pool.