Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Congress - review

Congress can be defined as "the action of coming together".

The US Congress is made up of two houses to grant legislative powers but the process can be messy and not always work out as originally planned.

Both of these descriptions accurately describe Ari Foldman's The Congress which features two very interesting and different film ideas but join together to make for an uneven end result.

The movie begins with a slightly fictionalised version of Robin Wright being pitched "the role of a lifetime" which involves being scanned into a computer so the studio can own the "character" of Robin Wright in exchange for a lot of money but the price of never performing in person again.

It hints at being a savage Hollywood satire, critiquing the way women (that aren't Meryl Streep) are treated once they reach a certain age and the reliance on CGI and motion capture in today's business.

It features one of the year's best scenes in which Robin's agent Al (Harvey Keitel) tells her the story of how he became an agent, both funny and sad, in order to elicit the proper emotions from her as she is scanned into the computer.

But just as it gets going, the satire is replaced with another plot where Wright attends 'The Congress' which is an animated hallucinatory haven where the film company Miramount are expanding into other novel ways of exploiting their film star commodities. Before you can say "Soylent Green is people!" they are marketing their last two stars, Wright and a male star who looks suspiciously like Tom Cruise, as consumable products like food and milk shakes.

Wright's reaction to this causes an uprising in the haven resulting in the majority of the world becoming addicted to a chemical which allows them to live their lives in the animated world of the truth.

It is a brave and bold segment which draws upon various animation styles including Ghibli and Tex Avery but feels like another movie altogether.

The Congress could have been a masterpiece but instead is a good movie that is less than the sum of its impressive parts.

3 stars

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