‘The White Chamber,’ is Paul Raschid’s second film directing and third as the writer. This stark view of a future Britain torn by a civil war between the Right-Wing military government and the Left-wing Liberation Army. And, is an engaging look at the human condition and how we can justify horrid and immoral things in the name of the greater good and revenge, to ourselves and those around them. The film opens to a captor/captive piece, where Shauna MacDonald, playing ‘Ruth’ is tortured and interrogated by Oded Fehr in order to reveal the nature of the White Chamber and what it was they were working towards. Things like electrified flooring, acid gels and instant temperature changes are built into the room so already you’re left questioning why would such a device be created and for what purpose.
Now I would consider talking more about the story and how I enjoyed the various twists and turns but I really don’t want to spoil this. But the non-linear narrative aids in revealing truths and stoking emotional engagement throughout and the performances given by Shauna MacDonald as Ruth and Oded Fehr as the People’s General are delivered with wondrous commitment as the torture increases. It also benefits from having a really strong and talented supporting cast with Nicholas Farrell, Amrita Acharia and Sharon Maughan. Suffice to say how this explores ethics and how humans can justify torture and what would be to many war crimes under the pretext of justice while still remaining relatable shows the talent that Raschild has for writing and the cast for delivering it so well. While some have suggested that he has sided more with spectacle then political discourse, there is still an agenda, that both sides are guilty of heinous acts in war and the notions of the good guys and bad guys are blurred by intent and ideas of justice, revenge, freedom and the greater good, whatever that may be.
As for the setting, this is unfortunately the film’s weakness, while the Chamber itself feels like something out of Black Mirror the rest is not so good. It appears that most of the film was done in the foyer of an office block. Mixing tables containing harmful chemicals are out in the open, not isolated against foreign contamination. In fact, everything is open which given what they’re doing doesn’t make total sense. Usually there would be a dizzying array of procedures that don’t even get acknowledged while others are brought to the foreground which feel questionable.
I really enjoyed White Chamber, so I’m a little more forgiving of some of the faults. But ultimately, it’s a once watched type of film. You’ve seen how everything goes so there is no real need to watch it again. The foreshadowing while good is sign-posted so you never feel like you’ve missed something important to the story, the make-up and effects are okay but nothing stands out. Yet it’s worth watching this, even that once. There are elements that you’ll enjoy, the acting is great, the story whilst simple on the surface peels away to reveal some depth and thought and the White Chamber itself feels unnerving, taking the worst from fears of being incarcerated and magnifying them.