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The Congress

Ari Folman examines our relationship with cinema and takes a satirical swipe at Hollywood in this stunning and stimulating sci-fi fantasy which combines live action with animation.

Robin Wright plays a version of herself, an actress who is struggling to find interesting roles and get cast in Hollywood films as she gets older so when Miramount studios suggest “hermetically scanning” her so they can use her image as they please she faces the dilemma that many ageing actresses do of clinging on to integrity or selling out. Any actor who isn’t scanned will be wiped from film history but if Wright opts in she can never perform again. Wright chooses to play the game and so we follow her career over a long period of time through both live action and animation.

Folman dissects the manipulation of identity in the internet age and the creativity of online personas which allow people to appear as they want, rather than who they are. We see Robin Wright, being scanned whilst encased in a hollow light globe, going through every emotion which makes for extremely powerful viewing and reminds us what cinema should be about.

Ari Folman turns the heated debate of how women are used as tools in Hollywood with a reductive and small selection of roles into a fantastic, dark and dazzling sci-fi extravaganza. His exploration of actors and celebrities as a commodity, rather than as human beings is relevant and provocative, and every piece of detailed animation is stunning, using the various styles seen over the course of film history to create a beautiful, unique and surreal cinematic experience.

The Congress is reminiscent of a combination of The Matrix, Japanese animation Paprika, Fantasia and even Leos Carax’s Holy Motors in its confounding and challenging nature. The Congress is a film that demands repeat viewings and may leave you in a bewildered haze. If you are game for something a little unusual, this extravagant, imaginative and thought provoking ride is just the ticket.
- Katherine McLaughlin, ViewLondon

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