The Congress

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DIR: Ari Folman  WRI: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman  PRO: Reinhard Brundig, Sébastien Delloye, Piotr Dzieciol, Ari Folman, David Grumbach, Eitan Mansuri, Robin Wright • DOP: Michal Englert  ED:Nili Feller   DES: David Polonsky MUS: Max Richter  CAST: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel

Robin Wright (as herself) is an ageing actress well past the peak of her acting career. Contracted with Miramount, a big budget film company, Wright has been offered one final contract. A contract that will allow her to live on as an actress by a process known as ‘scanning’. This process will see her digitally re-mastered and living on as computer code to appear in films as often as the studio sees fit. There’s only one condition… Robin Wright the living breathing human may never act again.

The premise for Ari Forman’s latest offering is a very interesting one. A struggling actress trying to make ends meet with a son carrying a rare disease must sign a deal to save her family whilst ultimately killing her career.

Wright really is a superb actress and turns in an incredible performance. The scanning sequence is hauntingly beautiful as hundreds of cameras capture every joyful and sorrowful expression of Wright’s various emotions in one of the film’s most poignant scenes.

Folman’s look at modern cinema and how film production may come to pass is a really insightful one and really challenges the question as to how much do big film studios really value their actors and actresses in a money hungry environment.

The film picks up 20 years later and unfortunately here is where the film really loses its way.

Wright is summoned to a gathering with Miramount big-wigs to discuss her contract in what is deemed an “animated zone only” by a security guard to the hotel entrance.

One quick sniff of a hallucinogenic and the audience is greeted to a bizarre animated world of odd creatures and odd people which Wright describes as “an addict on a bad acid trip”.

The film abandons its original look at film production and the idea of actors and actresses becoming obsolete in favour of imagery and how we as people aspire to be others than be true to ourselves.

It is completely off the rails and not in a good way. With all due respect, the animation is incredibly well done and is absolutely breathtaking. However, the story in the second part of the film does not match the initial heights the film sets itself.

It’s not that The Congress is a bad film rather that it’s too imaginative for its own good and herein is the film’s downfall and finds itself down a path that it ultimately can’t get back from.

Shane Saunders

15A (See IFCO for details)
122 mins

The Congress  is released on 15th August 2014

The Congress  – Official Website

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