The Congress (2013)

WTF did I just watch?

Seriously, WTF was that?

It starts off as a strange fear of a dystopian future by having Robin Wright play a character named Robin Wright who has been in all of Robin Wright's films who is forced to come to terms with the fact that actors will no longer be necessary in the digital future where people will be scanned in and their acting will be entirely CG - like the young Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.

Robin has to deal with her son's worsening physiological condition and the realization that she will never be able to act again if she doesn't agree to the contract where she agrees to take a lump sum in exchange for the evil movie studio owning the rights to her in all acting and performing endeavors from then on.

Right in the middle of the film, it degenerates into an inexplicable animation of chemical imagination and insanity where reality and fantasy combine to be... someone else's idea of what reality should be. It is dominated by the megacorporation that used to just be the movie studio, and it includes trailers and interviews related to a crappy sci-fi movie that Robin would never have done. The irony of Robin saying she won't do sci-fi in a movie that is sci-fi is the kind of hit-you-over-the-head irony that this movie is really riding on.

It is very clearly art house award bait that is filled with symbolism, a fear of the unknown, a fear of computers, a fear of progression, a fear of loss, a fear of losing touch with humanity, and a fear or pretty much everything.  Some might argue that it highlights a singular woman's struggle against the tide of despair to try to reconnect with her children when the world pulls them apart, but she actually takes the easy route at almost every turn.

This will likely get good reviews based on acting performances that were very good. Harvey Keitel, playing Robin's agent,  tells a story about how he became an agent at the age of 10 that is very well done and parallels nicely with what is happening to her at the time. Robin herself does a very good job with the role of being Robin Wright - it's a role she was born to play. Paul Giamatti doesn't have a huge role, but he plays it well and even gets some of the melancholy of the story on him.

All told, it was an art movie that probably tried to break too much new ground at the expense of the story and the characters. I'm sure there are simply things they could not do on their budget with anything other than animation, but animation was not what the story needed. Instead, the animation was distracting to both the audience and the story.

Direction needed improvement
Acting was fantastic
Story was ambitious
Dialog was not always helpful
Knowledge of technology on the set was low



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