Friday, April 10, 2015

Selling your soul...


Fame, stardom, celebrity, immortality; these are things that many, many people dream of attaining.  To be considered legend, to attain unending youth and be a beacon of joy, hope and entertainment for the masses for an indefinite amount of time; who doesn’t want that?  With the stars of today (and of yesteryear), the only way to attain such immortality was to aspire to being a part of something that would, in due time, become classic and beloved.  This is the only way to assure that their legacy, their stardom, would live on.

In that sense actors like Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh are immortal.



In Ari Folman’s semi-animated film, ‘The Congress’, the theme of stardom and immortality is broached from a bold new vantage point.  Here, Robin Wright is playing herself.  She’s the same famed actress she is in real life, but she’s also facing the obvious fact that she is not a young starlet anymore and despite the fact that she’s been in a few well received (and semi-beloved) films, she’s somewhat considered washed up.  Her career is at a brick wall that she may not be able to get through.  This is when she’s given a proposition.  Sell your likeness, your being, to the studios so that they can use you in any film without restriction and in this way you will be compensated duly and, in many respects, become immortal.  She will be forever young.  She will be a true star because she can, and will, be everywhere; all things to all people, and in the meantime she will be able to live her life separate from the harsh realities of celebrity, care for her sick child and enjoy her life.

Sign on the dotted line.

Then the years pass by, her fame rises and her contract nears expiration, and so Robin travels to The Congress Convention, where she is to contemplate renewing her contract, only to have her world thrown into complete disarray as she starts to debate, question even, the morality of what she’s done.

‘The Congress’ asks a lot of questions between the lines, but there is something that leaves me feeling like the film is somewhat underdeveloped.  It doesn’t feel complete in the sense that I would have liked it to.  While it contains some great ideas, it doesn’t quite tackle them in a manner that feels fully answered.  The struggle to decide whether our free will, our freedom of choice, is worth losing for the longevity of a career, of a name, is given light, but in the final frames it never feels wholly fleshed out.  Instead, ‘The Congress’ feels like a lot of ideas tossed into a pot that is never quite stirred enough for them to all mesh together and become one.


And yet, there is a beauty to ‘The Congress’.  Wright delivers a tender and thoughtful performance, and Keitel (who isn’t used enough) shatters in one of the most absorbing and outstanding scenes of the film year.  The score is simply perfect, soaring in all the right areas and lifting the film it remarkable heights.  And like I said, there is a commendable complexity and relevance to the themes presented here, even if they don’t always come together how I’d like.


It’s intriguing and thought provoking, which is what cinema should be.

B- 

10 comments:

  1. Great write up! I love the idea behind the script but I'm not sure I like Wright enough to sit through this

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    1. She's rather great in the first half of this, to be honest...but the second half, when she's in full animated mode, is nothing special at all.

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  2. When I saw that poster, I thought it was Naomi Watts, and I was like "why haven't I heard of this?" Then I saw it was Robin Wright. It sounds interesting enough, but I'm not a huge fan of hers. I never did get around to seeing Waltz with Bashir and I always wanted to.

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    1. LOL, the first time I saw that poster I thought it was Jennifer Garner...

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  3. This sounds unique. Even if it didn't fulfill its potential, it's probably worth watching. Also anyone who thinks Robin Wright is "washed up" hasn't seen House of Cards! Still gorgeous and doing the best work of her career.

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    1. I still need to see House of Cards!

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  4. This sounds like they took what happened in the old studio system and stretched it a bit farther. Very interesting concept. So many signed contracts and appeared in whatever was handed to them including ads and magazines but all controlled by the studios. If something happened, the studio would fix it or sweep it under the rug. Some of the stars started to rebel....oops! Sounds like a good movie

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    1. It really could have been great...it's good, but the potential to be something even more was there...and it just couldn't reach it.

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  5. We're pretty much in sync on this one. It's underdeveloped, but not without merit. B for me.

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