(1990)2Perry SeibertThere are a handful of famous torture sequences in movies: Laurence Olivier performing unwanted dental work on Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man, Michael Madsen mutilating the cop in Reservoir Dogs, and Mel Gibson on the rack at the end of Braveheart, to name just three. Closet Land is unique because it takes torture as its entire setting. Unremittingly bleak and oppressive, Radha Bharadwaj's film assaults the senses and the mind. Shot on a single, sparse set in a style that recalls German Expressionism, there is nothing to divert one's attention from the horrific interrogation. The most atrocious acts of physical violence occur off-screen, although the screams and sobs that result from them are quite audible. Torture is the milieu, but not the theme of the film. The lighting, art direction, and the fact that the only two characters are nameless all underscore the fact that Closet Land is an allegory for oppression anywhere. This is a remarkably unpleasant film to endure, which is the point -- the filmmakers harrowingly communicate that all oppression and torture are horrific. The biggest complaint that can be levied toward the film is that the audience knew this before they entered the theater. The ambiguous ending is similar to Brazil, allowing viewers to decide for themselves if retreating into the mind is escape or defeat.