Film Review: An Acceptable Loss

Writer-director Joe Chappelle’s An Acceptable Loss is an usually flat political thriller. Despite good performances and a decent premise, the film fails to engross viewers.

When Libby becomes a guest lecturer at a top university, there is controversy about her appointment. Libby was a former aide to the Vice President at the time of a controversial action. Meanwhile, a student takes an interest in her activities…

Written and directed by Joe Chappelle, An Acceptable Loss is a political thriller with a suitably intriguing hook. With a backdrop of US action in the Middle East, the film focuses on a fictional action that had dramatic effect on the region, US politics, and the protagonist herself. Chappelle holds back the full details of the action until much later in the film. The narrative unfolds with present-day activity interspersed with frequent, and sometimes lengthy, flashback sequences. This set up works reasonably well, keeping viewers guessing over exactly what happened at that pivotal time.

The main issue with An Acceptable Loss is that it lacks strong direction. Instead of intrigue or an increase in tension, the film is notably flat. Chappelle’s picture is neither smart enough to engross viewers with its political duplicity, nor action-packed to sufficiently propel momentum. The film does shift into action mode for its final act. Yet the narrative here feels less than convincing. The film does not seem to have much of a point to make regarding US foreign policy and military action. Coupled with the aforementioned lack of tension, it is an undesirable combination.

This is not to say that the film is without merit. The diverse cast is a definite positive. In the past, the two main roles would almost certainly have been played by men. Here both Tika Sumpter and Jamie Lee Curtis turn in great performances. Sumpter is convincing in an understated manner, whilst Curtis is at times frightening in her role. Ben Tavassoli provides good support.

An Acceptable Loss is needed more drive, and perhaps something to say, to be a good thriller. The performances only offer a part redemption.

An Acceptable Loss will be available on Digital Download from 15th July 2019.