The Congress (2013)

The Congress
Director: Ari Folman
Writer: Ari Folman
Based on: Stanislaw Lem‘s novel The Futurological Congress
Cast: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Jon Hamm, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Danny Huston, Sami Gayle, Michael Stahl-David, Michael Landes, Sarah Shahi

Plot:
Robin Wright (Robin Wright) is an actress past her prime who lives with her two children Aaron (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Sarah (Sami Gayle) near an airport. Her agent Al (Harvey Keitel) does his best for her, but he has seen better times, too. So when Robin gets the chance to get on the next technological step and scan herself entirely so that a CGI version of herself will do all her acting for her, she takes it despite her trepidations. But technology doesn’t end there.

This movie is a mess. And not a beautiful one either, but one that, after a great start, leaves you confused and bored.

the-congress

I really enjoyed the first third or so of the film. The part where Robin Wright tries to get her career back on track, which really isn’t easy as a middle-aged woman. With agent Harvey Keitel who is a relic of old times in the business himself and tries his best to help Robin anyway, even if helping sometimes means being a complete asshole. I would have loved to watch an entire film about the two of them.

But then the movie suddenly veers off into animation. And while I did like the idea and the concept that there’s a drug that makes people experience the world as if it was animated, that was the point where the movie stopped trying to make the least bit of sense.

the-congress1

And I will freely admit that I’m not good with movies that don’t make that much sense and that are like a drug-fueled hallucination for most of the time, but there’s drug logic and then there’s just no logic whatsoever. And this film sits firmly in the latter category, which might be fine during the animated parts but when we return to the real world, and the entire structure behind that is explained, it should make a bit of sense, but it doesn’t.

Add to that that I thought the animation was shoddily done and not particularly aesthetic and that the film was just plain boring and I can’t really recommend it at all, despite the cool start.

Film still from The Congress by Ari Folman

Summarizing: What the everloving fuck? Just no.

2 thoughts on “The Congress (2013)

  1. Can’t agree. I found it fascinating. Yes, it was confusing sometimes, because we enter the animated zone and then there’s also Robins drug-induced hallucinations, and it’s nearly impossible to separate the two. But I loved its originality, and the slap in the face when we return to reality. However, I agree that the first part of the movie was the strongest. The idea of scanning, Robins struggle (funnily enough, I watched “The Princess Bride” just two days before)… and the scene where she’s scanned and Keitel tells his story (and she goes through the exact same emotions in exactly the order they wanted her to) is by far the best one of the entire movie (and one of the best I’ve seen this year). However, I liked the idea of these drugs, and how every one pretty much sees something else. That said, I agree that some of it doesn’t make sense (the idea that the people would “share” a hallucination), but I still found it fascinating and really interesting.

    • For me, the “slap in the face” as you call it lost all its slappiness due to a pure fail of logic. Because that world just doesn’t work at all. [SPOILERS] So you got all this drugged up people walking the earth. Who is taking care of them? They’re all clothed, they’re all fed, they’re all alive – do you seriously expect me to believe that somebody walks around feeding them? And if it’s really the rich people who are high all the time, why are they walking around like this and not in a bed somewhere, pampered by their servants? And if it’s not the rich people, who does all the menial labor and again, who the fuck takes care of them? And those are just the questions that came to my mind immediately after watching. [/SPOILER]
      If your dystopia doesn’t hold up to the smallest of scrutinies, it lacks any real impact factor for me.
      I find it easier to believe the shared hallucinations based on pheromones.

      But at least we agree on the film’s strongest scene. :)

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