Tuesday, 23 June 2015

'The Congress' Review

For my second Drafthouse review, I check out this semi animated fable starring Robin Wright. Hit the jump for more...

The film begins with a revealing credit: 'Robin Wright at', for this isn't your typical movie. In it, Robin Wright plays a sort of version of herself. In the first half, this is undoubtedly live action, and we see some incredible filmmaking. Indeed, in a sort of film-biz satire but without humour, Wright plays herself melancholy, at the end of her career. It's sad and powerful, heightened by a swooning score, beautiful visuals, and an impressive side performance from Harvey Keitel. For sure, it's an excellent start.

But what of the story from there on? We've seen the failed actress film done a thousand times! But this time it's different. From here on, the movie takes a surreal sci-fi twist, in that the world has been destroyed by humanity. Because of this, people have had to take some sort of hallucinogenic trip-drug that transports them into an animated fantasy. Weird, huh? From here the film gets a little lost: due to the fact that the world is fantasy, the plot becomes insanely complex and untraceable (although it never becomes boring). Despite this, the emotional core is retained perfectly and Folman gets his point across clearly - Hollywood is BAD. So bad that this may be the ultimate anti - Hollywood movie..

The live action start
As you would expect from this type of film (and also from a director who has showcased animation before), the visuals are absolutely stunning. In the 'real world' the landscapes are abstract, the studios are accurate, and the glitzy special effectsy things (e.g. the scanning dome) are wonderfully realised. In the animated world, we switch between differing styles and color schemes. From the psychedelic Yellow-Submarine 'enter' scene, to the realistic restaurant and hotel rooms inside the word, Foleman want's to delight and to surprise. On top of this we even get a black and white, Dr. Strangelove homage                                                                                        starring the main protagonist.

Speaking of which, Folman is infatuated with the medium. Despite his lambasting of mainstream movie culture, he makes frequent reference to films from the past which he loves (with a special amount reserved for Kubrick homages). I own't spoil the extensive list, but pay attention and you will be rewarded.

So, all in all, 'The Congress' is a great movie, it has a powerful first half; a brilliant score; beautiful animation; and a plethora of references. But in the animated quarter, the story really does get a little muddled. Check it out!
The Congress gets 4 stars!

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