Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Congress

The Congress is a savagely funny and surprisingly moving commentary on our increasing reliance on screens and a meta-textual Hollywood satire - according to the Vancouver International Film Festival. Perhaps I saw a different film. Actually I didn't read the small print carefully. In particular the bit where it said "dazzlingly surreal animation". I have a bad history with surreal films. They almost always sound more interesting than they turn out to be.

Scanning Robin Wright
The Congress opens with an interesting concept. Robin Wright (The Princess Bride) is 44 and too old for Hollywood. Her home life is odd, living in a converted hanger at the end of a busy runway with two teenager kids. One of whom has behavioural problems and  is also gradually losing sight and hearing. Miramount Studio has one last contract. They want to scan her and buy the rights to her (in effect a CGI version of her) for ever. She is told that live actors are a thing of the past. Films from now on will be completely computer generated.

So far so good, then the film leaps forward 20 years and almost immediately jumps into dazzlingly surreal animation territory. The CGI version of Robin Wright is staring in her own franchise of sci-fi action films. We are told that now Miramount has moved in to pharmaceuticals and you can eat or drink your favourite actors! While some of the animated crowd love the idea others start a war against Miramount. A new guy turns up to save Robin. I began to lose the plot at this point.

Animated Robin Wright
Obviously a massive amount of effort has gone into the animation and it is certainly dazzling. I wish rather more effort had gone into the script writing, and into making the images on the screen match the story that the exposition sections of the dialogue tell us is happening. Despite Robin Wright being the star of the film she is barely a character. Harvey Keitel as her agent and Danny Huston as a Miramount executive have much better parts.

I surprised afterwards to learn that the film was 2 hours long. It felt much longer.

Ian's rating 2/5

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