Journalism can often be a profession that turns sour for those involved, especially when vile secrets have been hidden for far too long. Feedback comes from Spanish director Pedro C.Alonso and is his first English language feature film, which is impressive considering the casting and the budget put behind this film. Feedback takes what is a linear format, adds a little auto-tuning here and there, and becomes a far darker and grisly tale of exposing the lies of well-loved and recognised public figures.
Jarvis Dolan is a talk show radio host, with a segment titled The Grisly Truth in which he talks in-depth about political and societal issues, with his latest ramblings talking about Brexit. With the ratings rapidly decreasing, the producer explains that he would like to reintroduce his old co-host and colleague Andrew Wilde. After some doubtful conversations, Jarvis agrees to the new formatting, however, he wants to be on air from 10pm for an hour before Andrew comes back into the air. With everything settled, Jarvis proceeds to start his show but very quickly becomes hostage to his own scandalous reality.
Within the first few minutes of Feedback, we’ve seen the busy landscapes of London from the high-rise and are met with highly recognisable faces including Eddie Marsan as Jarvis, Paul Anderson as Andrew and Anthony Head as Norman Burgess. With a strong leader of the pack, this film is easily carried from scene to scene, without much effort, however, relying on a strong lead actor doesn’t necessarily always mean the rest of the film will follow suit. As Feedback plunges into the depth of radio and show producing, there are a fair few technical difficulties that cause some issues whilst watching and listening.
Once Jarvis starts recording, he soon becomes aware that there are two masked men behind the production glass holding Anthony and Claire, the production team, hostage and want Jarvis to do as he’s told or they will suffer violently. Even though we become privy to how radio works and the technical side of this, the audio design throughout the film struggles a lot and makes it hard to concentrate or hear at numerous times. Firstly, Feedback is victim to too quiet audio and too loud musical sequences, which is one of my personal annoyances within any film. Secondly, when Jarvis is speaking to his radio audience, in his ear he has the masked menace talking over him and feeding him information. Although well executed in causing confusion and the same sense that Jarvis must feel, without subtitles it’s almost impossible to hear the dual voices speaking at the same time, which means a lot of dialogue is lost. This happens throughout the film and becomes frustrating when trying to hear important snippets from both parties.
The story takes a sinister twist and once Andrew is introduced, we begin to realise the motives behind the supposed attackers. There is a lot of uncertainty presented here and it’s interesting to see how over time and discovery about a certain incident involving two young girls, our sympathies switch from lying with Andrew to lying with the masked perpetrators. We do get to see some cringe-worthy moments of inflicted violence, but they are short-lived and therefore the excitement dies down quickly. However, even without the use of violence and purely playing on characters, emotions and strong story-telling, it has harrowing and disturbing moments which do not rely on any seen violence or depravity, which is perhaps more effective for the audience. It is a storyline that allows you some breathing room to make assumptions yourself and have these blown apart from a consistent trail of confessions.
The problem with Feedback is that although all the correct elements are there, it never fully runs with becoming a political or societal hard-hitting revenge film, which it had the potential to do. With a strong cast, superb acting, a gripping story and a claustrophobic setting, it could have become a film that made commentary on how public figures are put on pedestals and allowed to commit horrendous acts without truly dealing with the consequences of their actions. That paired with the political agenda from the beginning in which Jarvis talks strongly about the state of the UK, the film could have held a deeper and more powerful meaning but it feels as if Alonso was too afraid to take this film further than it goes.
Feedback is audibly mediocre and is aired for an audience that won’t appreciate something more political, compelling and shocking. It certainly isn’t a bad film in any respect, but it is a thriller film that will quickly be forgotten amongst the white noise of average.
Directed by: Pedro C. Alonso
Written by: Pedro C. Alonso, Alberto Marini
Cast: Eddie Marsan, Paul Anderson, Ivana Baquero