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Reality Is A Tense Thriller, Sydney Sweeney Shines {Review}

Reality is a tense new thriller on HBO and Max that shows Sydney Sweeney is a force to be reckoned with, and will be for a long time.

Reality is a return to form for HBO original films, a tense thriller that is a wonderful showcase of how talented Sydney Sweeney is. The Euphoria star plays whistleblower Reality Winner with a realism that puts us in her shoes, and the results are compelling and unnerving. Adapted from Tina Sattler's own off-Broadway play Is This A Room, Sattler has a winning debut as a writer and director here, telling Winner's story with dialogue taken right from the FBI recordings of when they went to her house to interview her one morning in 2017.

Reality Is A Tense Thriller, Sydney Sweeney Shines {Review}
Sydney Sweeney in Reality. Photo by Courtesy of HBO.

Reality Is Sweeney's Dance, And She Nails It

Since all of the transcripts and recordings are presented to us, the actors all have to recreate the various sounds and stutters and such, giving the material an authenticity. Sweeney's Reality is interviewed by the FBI agents (Josh Hamilton and Marchánt Davis) in a small room, where Sattler uses close-ups in a smart way, especially with Sweeney, who smartly develops tells to let us know when she is being less than truthful and trying to keep her secret. Both Hamilton and Davis are great as well, representing two different takes on how an FBI agent should conduct themselves. When it is revealed what we as viewers already know, that Reality smuggled confidential government info from an NSA report and mailed it to a reporter, it is devastating. The room's setting only adds to the claustrophobic feelings we have had watching, and all the air gets sucked out of the room at that moment.

Sattler cleverly uses the actual audio from the tapes a couple of times, and when the redacted parts are spoken, characters disappear, and the audio gets distorted, as we have to wait until Reality is ready to tell us her story herself to learn the full extent of what happened. It all just feels so intimate and dirty to be watching, like we are the nosy neighbors peeking over the hedges to try and figure out what is happening. The one-room setting does make it quite clear that this is adapted from the stage, but in a good way, not to its detriment.

Reality Is A Tense Thriller, Sydney Sweeney Shines {Review}
Josh Hamilton, Sydney Sweeney, and Marchant Davis in Reality. Photo by Courtesy of HBO.

It all hinges on Sweeney, who is now HBO's golden goose, having Euphoria, The White Lotus, and now this under her belt for the channel. Each one has showcased a different range and maturity, with this being the biggest standout. She is in every scene of this film and goes from a meek woman worried about her pets to a confident whistleblower, steadfast in her convictions by the end. She is poised to be a big, big star, and hopefully, she keeps making these kinds of choices.

Reality is now streaming on Max.


Reality Is A Tense Thriller, Sydney Sweeney Shines {Review}
Review by Jeremy Konrad

Reality is a tense thriller that really announces Sydney Sweeney as a force to be reckoned with. Tina Sattler adapts her own stage play with stunning effect, and the results are fantastic.

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Jeremy KonradAbout Jeremy Konrad

Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.
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