27 March 2006

V for Vendetta

Sometime in the fictional future, the U.S. turns out be as big of jerk as everyone around the world is hoping it’d be, and ends up a pathetic wasteland. Apparently, as a result, the British let a despotic “high chancellor” take over the country and institute a national curfew, ubiquitous surveillance, and a really ominous red and black motif. Their only hope is a mysterious freedom fighter named “V” with an elaborate plan to expose the government’s treachery, galvanize the public, and blow up lots of stuff. Along the way, V unexpectedly meets (and tortures) the dysfunctional love of his life, and learns that there may be more to life than revolution and alliteration.

V for Vendetta is rumored to be the last film by the Wachowski brothers. I hate to say it, but maybe that’s a good idea. V for Vendetta had all the makings of a sure-fire hit: It’s based on a comic book, it stars a female lead who looks fabulous even as a baldie [Curse you, Portman!] and an enigmatic male lead who’s name no one knows, but who’s face & voice everyone will recognize; it’s “from the creators of The Matrix trilogy.” I’m sorry to report that the movie’s quite a disappointment.

The film’s anti-hero, V (Hugo Weaving) is likeably psychotic, but way to melodramatic for my taste. His creepy Guy Fawkes mask doesn’t help either. With a penchant for lengthy, alliterative soliloquies, foppish wigs, and random whimsical moods, V is like a mix between the Phantom of the Opera, Batman, and the Riddler – just way weirder. Natalie Portman is gorgeous, yet quirky as ever, as Evey, a tortured young woman who unwittingly becomes involved in V’s plans for revolution. I’m not trying to make myself the accent police, but once again, another distracting attempt at an accent mars an otherwise, decent performance. [Every time Portman spoke, I was reminded of Drew Barrymore in Ever After.] She is, however, pretty good at acting tortured. When Evey is forced to take a shower, shave her head, and eat nasty oatmeal, you’re actually convinced that such acts are quite torturous. In my opinion, the star of the show was the film’s everyman, Detective Finch (Stephen Rea). The audience can’t help but feel for Finch as he struggles to figure out WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON.

The film underlines several big themes. Frankly, they make them quite hard to miss.

#1 There is no such thing as a coincidence.

#2 Everyone is wearing a mask. It’s up to you to look beyond it… and ignore the disfigurement and lack of eyeballs.

#3 Symbols are bad (except for “V”, anything red, and Guy Fawkes masks); thus, we should blow up any building of significance.

#4 V for Vendetta is actually “Holocaust Redux.”

#5 Natalie Portman shaved her head for this movie, people. This is a very serious film.

#6 Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Okay, that’s not actually one of the themes, but it should be. V did some pretty awful things to Evey.

#7 Guy Fawkes was executed on November 5th.

I understand that the attention span of the average media consumer may be dwindling, but you don’t have to smack people over the head with the film’s themes. If they don’t get it, they don’t get it.

I appreciated the dramatic imagery: explosions, fireworks, the mob of revolutionaries in cloak and masks, the elaborate domino setup, the consistent use of black and red. etc, but it took forever for the film to get interesting. If you have a character as crazy as V is, it’s best to establish some back story early on that will enable the audience to tolerate all of his baffling antics.

There were moments of what I imagine was profound social commentary or notes on the state of humanity, but between Weaving’s mumbling and the wordy dialogue, gotta say that I missed it.

My recommendation: I know you won’t listen or it’s already too late, but a trip to the movie theater is unnecessary. Just wait until it hits video stores. It’ll be really easy to find. Just look under “V.”

1 comment:

felix said...

how sad... we found the movie very entertaining.