Film Review: The Congress

The Congress

The Congress is an experimental science fiction film that has successes as well as failures. It is a shame that the strength of the first third is not replicated in the rest of the film.

Actress Robin Wright is offered one last job, which her agent persuades her to take. Later on, the consequences of her decision effects her in ways she did not consider…

Ari Folman’s The Congress posits an interesting premise: technology rendering real actors obsolete. With the reliance on CGI, this is not too difficult to fathom. It is a fascinating set up, and one that retains the audience’s attention.

The introduction of the animated section still functions effectively. Given that the idea of avatars has been played out in films before, it is interesting to see where Folman will take it. However, the idea peters out. This segment feels overlong and lacks momentum. The audience is given too long to ponder on meagre bones.

The Congress recovers before its conclusion however. The final segment of the film takes themes back to the beginning. The finale feels fitting.

The Congress exhibits some great cinematography. The animated section shows real creativity. Given the premise, there are some amusing nods to the film industry.

Robin Wright is great in The Congress. The role is really interesting, and requires self-reflexivity which Wright delivers. Harvey Keitel is well cast as agent Al, while Kodi Smit-McPhee is believable as Aaron.

There are some great ideas swirling around, but this does not translate into a truly illuminating film. The creativity of The Congress should be applauded nevertheless.

The Congress is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.