[CIFF]: ‘An Acceptable Loss’

Newsflash! Jamie Lee Curtis has another film that’s making the rounds that’s not called Halloween. It’s An Acceptable Loss, a political thriller set in the heart of Chicago that just made its premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Director Joe Chappelle‘s new thriller centers around Libby (Tika Sumpter), a former assistant to the United States’ Vice President (Jamie Lee Curtis). Disgraced for a military strike that we know little about, but is slowly revealed throughout the film, she comes to teach at an Ivy League University. There, she picks up a stalker in the form of Martin (Ben Tavassoli). Why Martin is skulking through bushes, breaking into Libby’s home, and whatever else stalkers do, we have no idea. But the cat-and-mouse game they unwittingly engage in is as nuanced as it is pulsating.

The entirety of the film is a big reveal, from each character’s motivations to their past actions. Much of that is accomplished through flashbacks, as throughout the film Libby is writing her memoirs. In these scenes, we see the dynamic between her and her former boss, a dynamic which mirrors Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney.

Some of the logic is a bit iffy, like Libby living without a phone, cellphone or landline, or the internet, along with other moments when odd logic is unnecessarily forced on the character. Still, the film is brisk and effortless with its overall plot and acting. Tavassoli, Curtis, and Sumpter all bring tense performances. Tavassoli in particular, who mostly must survive with very little dialogue, internalizes a brilliant breakout performance.

An official selection of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF): 2018.

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