A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 353 – V for Vendetta

V For Vendetta – February 16th, 2011

Looking back, there is an excellent reason we did not watch this on Guy Fawkes’ Day, though I am now rather disappointed that we didn’t find a way to manage it. At the time, I was heading out of the state to visit a friend and so we watched something incredibly easy on our brains because we were watching it just after midnight on the previous night. We did some Monty Python. Not really the same sort of thing at all, even if both works are British in origin. Still, as I said, it’s too bad we didn’t manage it. I honestly don’t remember if we even floated the idea or just skipped to the familiar out of necessity. Ah well.

I am a bad comic book/graphic novel reader and have never read the work this movie is based on. Oh, it’s crossed my desk at work several times. I’ve had the opportunity, but, you see, I knew the basics about it, and it is the sort of thing I have to be in the right mindset and mood for. And to be honest, I don’t know if I was tonight. I get the point of it and I can see all the possible parallels and given the current political climate in certain geographical areas, well, I’m sure there are film students and political science students and pop culture students writing theses on it all as I type. Cheers to them all. I’m sure they’ll say very interesting things about England and the US and Egypt and Tunisia and Iran and protests and fascism and totalitarianism and fear and torture. Were I in college I believe I would try to do something with this movie, The Stand and Wag the Dog and I could likely have made a good go of writing something coherent, if I could bring myself to really prod at the political history necessary to anything halfway decent.

And therein lies my problem with a movie like this. Any movie that’s making an overt statement about current politics, really. And while this movie can be said to be pointing backwards at regimes like Hitler’s in Germany, it is set in the future in the UK, with references to civil war in the US. And while allegory as an artistic form is often used to comment on political or social issues of the day without actually flat out stating them, I don’t believe this to be allegory. It is straight up cautionary dystopia. And while I can appreciate it for its brazenness it pings a little hard on my anti-propaganda meter. It swings so hard and so fast away from what it rails against that it makes me give it the side-eye. Which I find immensely frustrating

All that being said, I did enjoy it, and I credit that enjoyment to the performances, which totally sold me on every moment of the movie. Natalie Portman as Evey, a young woman whose whole family seems to have fallen victim to the chaos and destruction that have brought England to the state it is in as of the time of the movie. There was a viral outbreak at a primary school that claimed her brother. Her parents became activists and were arrested, never to be seen again. There were riots and chaos and now the country is under a strict rule of fear and hate. And against it all is a masked vigilante named V, who, we learn, was a victim of the government’s secret experiments on its own people. V and Evey become connected through a couple of minor events that end up leading to far more than either one expected. I don’t really feel the need to go into much more detail really. If you don’t know the movie, then I think it’s better to see it play out. If you do, you know how it goes. It is brutal in places and oddly sweet in others. It has moments of sadness and melancholy and moments of exultation. And really, it is Portman as Evey who carries it all. Hugo Weaving, as V, is fantastic as well, but you never see his face. It’s all in his voice. Evey gets to show us expressions, and often that’s all she needs. The rest of the cast stands up to it too, whether they’re on the side of the government or V or somewhere in between (most people seem to be in between, really). So it’s the performances. They made this movie for me.

It’s incredibly heavy-handed in many places. It presses its agenda to a fault. I really disliked the end scene with people taking the masks off because it felt so very forced and unnecessary to have some particular people there. I would have liked there to be a little more depth to the atrocities committed by the people in power (they’re mentioned and stories are told, but it all feels glossed over every time). But for all of that, I enjoyed it. I cannot say whether it touches the right notes as an adaptation of the graphic novel, but as a movie on its own I would say it is at least a partial success, and I say partial because I know some people will see the message of the movie from the very first scenes and be turned off right then and there by its obviousness. But personally speaking, I wasn’t. I acknowledge its flaws and enjoy it all the same for being a movie that deals with issues of fear and suspicion and freedom not just on a national level, but a personal level as well.

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February 16, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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