18½

18½ ★★★½

With its centrepiece being the infamously missing 18-minute and 30-second recorded dialogue between US President Richard Nixon and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, which applies to the watergate scandal, 18½ is a peculiar and amusing film. It follows a transcriptionist named Connie, played by Willa Fitzgerald, and a journalist named Paul, played by John Magaro, and comes with a brisk runtime guaranteeing that it doesn't wear out its welcome.

As Connie struggles with controlling the tape's discovery and who should possess it, Fitzgerald and Magaro have palpable chemistry onscreen, making them very compelling to watch. Director Dan Mirvish gives a surprisingly gentle glimpse into the two people, who essentially get swept up in the potential to be more than what they are. While there are a few pacing issues here and there, Mirvish knows when to begin making substantial moves towards his provocative last act. Applying an alternative narrative to the 1970s Political scandal, 18½ is an enjoyable political-paranoia film.