Congress, The
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -2

Robin Wright, Jon Hamm, Harvey Keitel, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Sami Gayle and Paul Giamatti. Sci-fi fantasy. Directed by Ari Folman (Waltz With Bashir).

FILM SYNOPSIS: More than two decades after catapulting to stardom with The Princess Bride, an aging actress (Robin Wright, playing a fictionalized version of herself) decides to take her final job: preserving her digital likeness for a future Hollywood. Through a deal brokered by her loyal, longtime agent (Harvey Keitel) and the head of Miramount Studios (Danny Huston), her alias will be controlled by the studio, and will star in any film they want with no restrictions. In return, she receives healthy compensation so she can care for her ailing son and her digitized character will stay forever young. Twenty years later, under the creative vision of the studio’s head animator (Jon Hamm), Wright’s digital double rises to immortal stardom. With her contract expiring, she is invited to take part in “The Congress” convention as she makes her comeback straight into the world of future fantasy cinema. Conceptional, the themes include the gift of choice, and the struggle to maintain humanity.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Sometimes when a filmmaker gets a little too intellectual/artistic his work becomes pseudo-intellectual/incoherent. I won’t say this film is much ado about nothing, but this live action/animated combo lacks a stimulus for making us care about the proceedings. At some point, we’re just wishing it would end so we can go eat.

A few years ago, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life left everyone walking to their car, scratching their heads and asking, “What the heck was that?” It fearlessly examined ethereal questions with a spirituality that was neither pious nor prejudiced. That film’s visual and viscerally emotional impact, sparked by exquisite imagery, had a profoundness missing in The Congress. The Tree of Life suggested we become aware of spiritual matters and rely on faith when the conundrums of the day overwhelm. The Congress avoids any such theme.

Although it satirizes the entertainment industry and pokes fun at man’s self-centeredness, The Congress does so in such a muddled, cold manner that by film’s end you are left caring about no one in the film. The production values are worthy, but it’s more like a hallucinatory trip than a provocative look at mankind’s future. There’s a feeling of loss that no character seems to be spared.

DVD Alternative: The Tree of Life

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Pandora Filmproduktion

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: A few minor expletives and a couple obscenities.
Profanity: Two profane uses of God’s name and the expression “Oh my God” is uttered several times.
Violence: Some brief animated violence, not excessive.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Brief animated nudity.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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