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The Congress

9 Aug

 An animated Robin Wright gets real in The Congress 


Robin Wright takes on ageism in Hollywood in the animated film The Congress

Robin Wright takes on ageism in Hollywood in the animated film The Congress Folman, who held willing audiences rapt with his Oscar-nominated animated tale of an Israeli incursion into Beirut(2008), goes in an entirely different direction with this wide-ranging contemplation about individualism, control, ageism, and the dynamics of Hollywood.

“Different” is loosely how Folman described his goal with The Congress at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, but in reality, the two films bare much in common. Both rely heavily on dream sequences and alter-realities to convey horror and meta themes, and both are animated in the same flat, textual style that is piquantly elegant, spare, and cartoonish all at once.

Folman’s latest takes its cue from the Stanislaw Lem novel The Futurological Congress and doesn’t really get to any of the plot elements or themes of the satirical 1971 future-scape until it transitions into an animated format about halfway in. The preamble before is a pat, but intriguing affair with the actress Robin Wright playing a fictionalized version of herself. The faux Robin lives a strange, yet cozy existence in a converted DC-9 hanger on the perimeter of an airport. Her son, Aaron (Kodi Smit-McPhee) for unexplained reasons enjoys flying a boxy red kite over the fence and into regulated airspace, which draws the ire of authorities not to mention two vicious German shepherds, an occurrence that bodes far heavier in the animated future world. Aaron too is ill and losing his hearing and sight, a condition that opens Wright up to a suggestion from her agent (a needling Harvey Keitel) to undertake the ultimate sellout: body, mind, and soul — screened into a computer so Hollywood can do with her as they like — even put her in a sci-fi movie, something the actress abhors.

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