Director: James McTeigue
Cast: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Roger Allam
Synopsis: Set in the not to distant future, London has survived global devastation that has crippled former world powers such as the United States. The government has a dictatorial stranglehold on the populous, however, in which anyone caught with a dissenting view tends to disappear. This story follows the goals of freedom fighter/terrorist V, who seeks to inspire the people to rise up against this government.
I freely admit that this week the only thing I have been posting about in the last week is Supanova, but I hope I can be forgiven for this given the amazing time that was had at Sydnova by all, and as such I found it an event much worth of promotion. As I type, Perth Supanova (or as I have seen it written on the Supanova Facebook page, SuPerthNova) should be in full swing and I hope all in attendance have a blast.
For my last Sydnova related post, I am going to connect it back to my cosplay for the event. Such a brilliant film needs more than just photos taken of a guy trying to be the title character. For a film that sells itself on action set pieces and Natalie Portman having gotten her head shaved for the role, there is much more to the film than these popularised elements. As I type this, the film sits at 180 on the IMDB Top 250 list, and I would suggest that this is largely due to the film being a very thought-provoking piece.
Alan Moore was behind the original graphic novel on which the film was based. This is the same creative talent behind From Hell and Watchmen. However, being dedicated to the medium of comics, he did not permit his name to be listed in the credits for the film. The story itself though is extremely intelligent, and it is very easy to miss certain connections if one does not remained focus. One of the incredible moments of cinematography in the film is not necessarily an action set piece, but an intricate collection of dominos that is set falling. More than being just really cool, this image appropriately represents the film. V has manufactured a series of events, that rely on a keen sense of intelligence, observation, and intuition into knowing how people will respond to his stimulus. He truly weaves a tapestry, one that the end result is not obvious until the final thread is put in place.
More than an extremely intelligent plot, V’s ideals themselves, and how he expresses them, are thought-provoking. There are many phrases that he utters that are imbued with power and inspiration. A few personal favourites include “People should not be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people”, “A symbol, in and of itself is powerless, but with enough people behind it, blowing up a building can change the world” and “What I am is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof”. This is a film about knowing that something is wrong with the world, and that somebody needs to stand up to do something about it. One person alone is not enough however. One person may start the wind of revolution, but without a cause people can and will rally behind, change may not be possible. The story really does highlight that the line between freedom fighting and terrorism is really very fine. How is it defined? The audience supports V’s cause, as his motives are justice and an attempt to end oppression. His deeds themselves however, are not necessarily admirable… killing party leaders and blowing up buildings by themselves are dastardly acts, and the film title admits that part of his motivation is also revenge. Perhaps this is the strength of the character however. He is not a typical unambiguous hero type. The story does not flinch from addressing this, Portman’s Evey indicating at one point that what was done to him has actually made him a monster. Regardless, his methods do not change, but he does at least acknowledge by the end that it should not be he who decides how the final events should unfold, redeeming the character from his former path.
The film comes together from incredibly strong performances. Portman is as always brilliant, which may excuse her top billing, though that choice does strike me as a marketing ploy to promote the film where Weaving’s recognition in the US was not high enough. Portman amazingly portrays two sides of the same character though, her story arc taking her from constantly frightened to a reserved but forceful bravery by the end of the film. The transition is really quite remarkable, and certainly took more than a radical haircut to achieve it. The film really does belong to Weaving, though. This is a performance that never once has the mask removed. Despite this, he displays a range of emotion that is evident without the facial cues that many actors would normally rely on. The fact that he also has an amazing voice that articulates the script and gives already powerful words an even greater gravitas really brings home that a special quality of actor was always needed for the role. In this case they had it. All the supporting actors are all on similarly fine form, I could continue this essay at great length discussing each one, but I have let this particular stream of consciousness last too long already. Suffice it to say, as far as performances go, this film has no weak link.
There is something about the work of Alan Moore that gets me overly analytical, and has my reflective reviewing style more go into absolute overdrive. Those familiar with my Watchmen review observed the same essay style of review as I have presented here. The fact is however, that the films based on his source material, let alone the source material itself, are brilliant, original, thought-provoking stories. Do yourself a favour and delve into his world further.
5 stars out of 5