Concealed (2017)

Concealed first published by RealCrime Magazine

After moving to South Africa with his girlfriend Sally (Nadia Townsend), for the first time in six years actor Max (Simon Lyndon) returns to Sydney for an audition. Upon their arrival someone tampers with Sally’s luggage, and Max has the sense that they are being followed. So when, the following morning, Sally goes missing, Concealed sets itself up to be an Antipodean reimagining of Roman Polanski’s Frantic (1985), as Max – out of his depth and in over his head – searches for his partner with increasing desperation through an underworld of ruthless smugglers. 

Yet in keeping with its title, Shane T. Hall’s film conceals other preoccupations beneath the crime-story conventions. For all Max’s chaotic blunderings into a demimonde of criminality, where he gets to act out for real the kind of tough-guy rôle more typically found in the second-rate film scripts that he reads, in fact there are secrets much closer to his own world – abortions, addictions, affairs, adoptions – that are every bit as important to the case, even as they muddy the waters and blur the film’s genres. As Max joins forces with his old mate (and family man) Richard (Paul Tassone), chess prodigy Perry (Yalin Ozucelik) and Sally’s sister Jacky (Joanne Priest), he is confronted with some twisted home truths that provide an alternative scenario for Sally’s disappearance, while pointing to his own guilty complicity in her unhappiness. 

Accordingly, as this hybrid film, all at once fish-out-of-water thriller and domestic tragedy, constantly switches between these two modes, it generates considerable ambiguity, even mystery from its own mismatched, dysfunctional plotting – with everything hidden in plain sight.

© Anton Bitel