’18½’ Reveals Gap 

As modern as “18½” is the film plays like a cross breed of ‘70s conspiracy cinema mixed with classic indie love beats.

Director and co-writer Dan Mirvish has built a bridge that connects an era of innocent intrigue to the modern day recognition of diabolical political plotting.

At any moment during “18½” the mood shifts from heist thriller vibes to a casual dinner with friends.

The discerning viewer will divine references to everything from Milos Foreman and Robert Altman to the Nixon Watergate hearing that had people glued to their primitive television screens on a daily basis like it was some kind of celebrity defamation trial.

Actors known for acclaimed yet under the radar films or streaming series like Willa Fitzgerald (“Reacher”) and John Magaro (“First Cow”) headline. Fitzgerald totally commands the screen as a secretary turned whistleblower.

Having a high security clearance Fitzgerald works at a facility that has access to top secret information. A reel-to-reel tape of a meeting between then President Richard Nixon and trusted advisors contains the erased eighteen-and-a-half minutes of the Presidential tapes that in itself was a bullet point one-week headline of the Watergate scandal. Fitzgerald cops the tape and contacts a daily newspaper.

Magaro plays a milquetoast reporter attempting to hook up with Fitzgerald when she brings him the scoop of the century.

The atmosphere feels very conspiratorial up to the point that the plot downshifts to a comedy that lulls viewers into a seductive mood only to subvert everything that’s come before. 

Besides a showcase for the two lead actors “18½” has solid support from Bruce Campbell (voice of Nixon), Richard Kind, Jon Cryer, Ted Raimi, Catherine Curtin, and Vondie Curtis Hall. The title itself recalls the surreal 1963 Fellini movie although that was a film fantasy as opposed to a political fantasy.

Most impressive are the erased contents that are heard as a focal point and yet background sound.

18½” is currently unwinding in select theaters.

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