Watergate was, until recently at least, probably the biggest political scandal to rock the United States of America since World War II. It started with a break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C, followed by two years of denials and culminated in the release of a ‘smoking-gun’ tape which led to the resignation of then President Richard Nixon. Some of the recording had been deleted though and this forms the premise for 18 ½.
Connie (Willa Fitzgerald) is a White House transcriber who doesn’t know what to do when she comes into possession of a version of the tape with the missing 18 ½ minutes. She arranges a meeting with a reporter, Paul Marrow (John Magaro), in a diner to try to formulate a plan. After sounding each other out, they check into a hotel in order to listen to what’s on there. The only problem is that his reel-to-reel recorder is broken.
Set in an atmosphere of paranoia, 18 ½ is a clever and entertaining alternative history thriller which takes an interesting premise and has a lot of fun with it. Indeed, Dan Mirvish’s film works so well thanks to a lightness of tone that permeates throughout and a taut, well-written script which makes the most of the limited settings. It’s unusual to see visions which are so different.18 ½ is a refreshing and welcome spin on a popular subject.
18 ½ is out in US cinemas on 27 May.