Monday, 15 September 2014

The Congress

Dir: Ari Folman
Starring: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti

Occasionally, life treats you to something special. It's often an unexpected moment of discovery. For Narry Borman, these "life treats" tend to be indulgent combinations of the senses in a feast of music, sight, sound, and imagination. Visiting the cinema house last night to watch The Congress, Narry B. was rewarded with one such life treat.

Perhaps what made the moment so perfect was the sense of discovery. NB had researched nothing about this film before going to see it on a whim. And then... when the magic of this film kicked in, I couldn't keep the smile from my face as the screen took us all away and enveloped us in its story and beauty.

There was a massive feeling of catharsis as The Congress interweaved reality and fantasy, animation and live action, and hope and despair. It was chiefly the sumptuous visual display that left an impression scalded on my mind. NB didn't think he would ever see animation that could match the beauty of Miyazaki's best creations (except, perhaps, for Leiji Matsumoto's work on Interstellar 5555), but The Congress simply picks up Miyazaki's ideas and takes them to the extreme. Sublime.

To say that the visuals are unforgettable is not to disrespect the story or the acting. In fact, the plot of The Congress is clever and complex. It's a film (to some degree) about film. But it's also about Hollywood, the excesses of modern life, the importance of family and honesty, and so much more. Equally impressive is Robin Wright's ability to convince us of the reality of what she's going through. Harvey K is Harvey K... you would expect nothing less. And Paul Giamatti manages to convincingly play both his younger and older self - a skill that not many are endowed with, it seems.

I don't want to go into too much depth about the story or visual style, or even the understated score, which relies heavily on tense strings and moody cello. I hope everyone discovers this film for themselves. If you watch it and you don't enjoy it, I hope you find some other life treat today.

Rating: The Congress*

*In honor of the quality of the film, I am rating it simply as 'The Congress' as it sits alongside only a few other films that surpass the NB rating system.


  1. If the movies The Matrix, Inception and Who framed Roger Rabbit all got "together" this film would be the result of that unnatural union.
    Good idea but apart from the last 15 mins(of which i truly enjoyed) I thought it was average.
    In fact it kind of reminded me of that film with Tom Hanks "Cloud Atlas" ... so much potential but didn't deliver.

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  3. Yes, dear readers, take note of this comment, for here we see someone who is clearly a garden variety "common man" (or "schmoe" as Narry Borman likes to say) comparing this subtle and intelligent film to four high-budget high-publicity Hollywood movies. Whereas the diarrhea-like American films poop easy-to-understand plots directly into the tiny brains of the masses, The Congress goes beyond merely being entertaining, and instead delves into art. Art, I say!