Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Congress

Taking a leaf out of the book of Japan, it seems that making big budget, emotionally draining, artistic animated epics is really starting to seep into western film culture. Now we find a futuristic animation science fiction drama mixed with some live action as well. Robin Wright is getting too old and has too little talent to sustain her career as a classical actress. No this isn’t some random attack on an acclaimed actress, in the Congress she plays herself with a son who has a degenerate mental condition. She agrees to be virtually purchased so her career may continue as an ageless avatar.
Well firstly the film achieves the no-easy takes of blending the surreal and serious very well. This is the big advantage of animation, the way to manipulate the images to make the bizarre yet beautiful creations flourish with life and achieve and underlying dark note. However the Congress seems to use it the opposite way. The whole concept remains as the main absurdity whilst tha actual animation is grey and bland. It creates a good effect, if not slightly surprising to start with. It’s grounded momentarily with live action sequences, but once we leap into the future we see the animation take control, just as the synthetic world does in the plot.
The film is an obvious satirical parody. The plot allows a few caricatures of famous celebrities to pop up, including Tom Cruise, who claims to be handing out supplies to kids in Africa. It is very unusual in the way it becomes a satirical commentator though. It verges on being dark comedy but also comments in a way that makes it just, confusing. The surreal element tries to overpower the commentary and the two end up in some kind of battle that makes it difficult to know whether it’s an actual sequence essential to the plot or a random detailed critique of society. It’s quite strange and you feel lost within the mess of surreal sequences and already rather complicated story.
This has been caused by a lack of narrative throughout the film. I have to praise the actors as they all make a great performance as both physical characters and voiced talent. But unfortunately it’s blended together in absurdity and dramatic depth. Despite a colourfully bland style of animation that makes the synthetic themes the film perfectly match the visuals, there’s no defining plot to match this.
The theme supplies a lot of the potential for a colourful film here. It raises some good questions concerning the image of an actor rather than their own talent. Mentioning Mr Cruise again, it’s safe to say that his face can often prove to be worth more money than any new film he may star in. Earlier this year Edge of Tomorrow was known as ‘that one like Groundhog Day, but with Tom Cruise’. These questions are confronted, and certainly there is an element of ambiguity to allow the viewer to decide.
Surreal science fiction satire was what we were expecting to find with this film. It should have been an animated version of Brazil. But instead it tries to keep a hard hitting plot between the absurdity and the result is a rather confusing scenario. Though you can admire the animation and acting, it fails when it comes to plot and a sense of direction.
Result: 5/10

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