Every time I daydream about living in France, I have to remind myself that France is not like in “I Married a Shadow” or an Eric Rohmer film. That here and now is not so bad, and maybe even good. As I walk up to my office building, I get that feeling of detached affection, an appreciation of shelter from the messiness of life outside of work. Not that work life isn’t messy; it is, but in a different way. And if you are close to the magic number that lets you exit, a sort of acceptance occurs that lets you emerge emotionally unscathed from the turmoil of organizational change.
Daydreaming about living happily in France is a bit delusional, non? Like Ari Folman’s “The Congress” which I saw yesterday afternoon. It doesn’t quite work, although there are moments that grab you. It’s loosely based on Stanislaw Lem’s “The Futurological Congress”, but it’s missing Lem’s black humour and emotional complexity. I digress – I tried to read Lem when I was an adolescent and found his prose impenetrable. Folman’s film is both live action and animated. The animation is psychedelic, an overload of color and movement. Robin Wright plays a version of herself, Harvey Keitel is her agent (unconvincing in this outing), John Hamm provides the voice for Wright’s love interest. Wright only come to life when her character shifts into the animated reality (or delusion?)
“The Congress” is certainly critical of Hollywood and technology. The allusion is that this is drug of and for the masses. By not knowing which story to tell, Folman’s loses track of Lem’s theme of identity shifting and reality or delusion ambiguity. But Folman shows beautifully our hangups about age. He shows that the love of a mother for her child is stronger than romantic love.
So see “The Congress” only if you loved “Waltz with Bashir” and want to check out what Folman is up to.