Even though only a small percentage of sexual harassment cases are filed by men -- and most of these against other men, Disclosure focuses on harassment of a man by his female boss. However, as the movie points out, sexual harassment is about power, so with more women breaking through the glass ceiling into positions of power, these statistics may change.
The film’s main character is Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas), a division manager at DigiCom who gets passed over for promotion when Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore), one of his former lovers, is selected vice president of the company. After receiving this promotion, Meredith tries to seduce Tom (now a married man), but he rejects her. To make matters worse for Tom, he receives incorrect information from Meredith in a way that causes him to appear incompetent. So he decides to bring sexual harassment charges against Meredith and requests outside mediation. Watching Tom struggle to save his job, his marriage, and his integrity (with the help of technology and a mysterious friend) will probably provide some viewers with satisfaction, mostly because of Douglas’ intensity in the role.
Based on Michael Crichton’s provocative bestseller, Disclosure deals with more than sexual harassment. Besides being a relentless indictment of unethical behavior in the workplace, it’s also a treasure chest of futuristic office technology. In a suspenseful virtual reality scene, we seem to walk down a “virtual” corridor alongside Tom, checking information files with him. In addition, we glimpse the office of tomorrow as employees communicate with each other on their state-of-the-art video and computer systems.
With so much going for this film -- intelligent direction by Barry Levinson, impressive performances by Douglas and Moore, excellent special effects -- Disclosure should be a first-rate movie. Unfortunately, its impact is weakened significantly by an unbelievable sexual harassment scene and by depiction of the female boss as a totally evil person. The steamy sex scene goes on much too long, reducing our confidence in Tom’s innocence. And by making Meredith’s character utterly despicable, questions arise concerning how this woman could be so successful in her career.
Nevertheless, this movie helps us understand why sexual harassment can be such an explosive issue.
(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated “R” for a very strong sex scene, sexual dialogue, and strong language.)