Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Save up to 70%
Empire
Film Studies 101
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
TODAY
Zack Snyder Tweets New Batman Suit Picture
A better look at Ben Affleck's suit
New Tomorrowland Posters Land Online
George Clooney and, well, younger George Clooney
It's Steve Carell Vs. Emma Stone In Battle Of The Sexes
They're on for the real-life tennis tale
Billy Zane Is Back Back Back For Zoolander 2
He's a cool dude!
Wes Craven Rediscovers People Under The Stairs
And finds We Are All Completely Fine
Adrianne Palicki In Talks For Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spin-off
Nick Blood is her likely co-star
James Wan To Conjure The Entity
Producing a remake of the 1981 horror
The Lego Batman Movie Leaps Over Ninjago
The Dark Knight will hit cinemas first. Cue the theme!
Adam Scott Has A Sexy Sleepover In The Overnight Trailer
Pizza night turns into something more...
More Movie News

RELATED NEWS
13 April 2015
New Full-Length Ant-Man Trailer Arrives Online
Tiny, but packs a punch
New 'Pay Off' Trailer For Terminator Genisys Lands
That 'brand new Terminator' has been revealed...
James Wan In Early Talks To Direct Aquaman
From Furious 7 to the Seven Seas?
More Movie News

RELATED FUTURE FILMS
Bill
21 August 2015
More Future Films

RELATED REVIEWS
Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream Alliance (2015)
Empire Star Rating
Last Knights (2015)
Empire Star Rating
Rigor Mortis (2015)
Empire Star Rating
Big Eyes (2014)
Empire Star Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

Cannes 2013: First Reaction To Ari Folman's The Congress
Cannes 2013: First Reaction To Ari Folman's The Congress
Folman and Wright take on Hollywood

17 May 2013  |  Written by Damon Wise  

submit to reddit

The Congress

Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir premiered in Cannes in 2008 and was the people's choice for the coveted Palme D'Or, which Sean Penn's jury gave to Laurent Cantet's The Class instead. Folman was vindicated with an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and the fact that we haven't heard from him in five years has nothing to do with him resting on his laurels. His follow-up, The Congress, a semi-animated fantasy begun some five years ago, opened Directors' Fortnight at this year's Cannes today, and it's easy to see why it was so time-consuming.

The film begins with a telling credit – “Robin Wright At” – before the title appears: The Congress. We cut straight to Wright, playing herself, being lectured by her agent, Al (Harvey Keitel). Al tells her that she is being made the offer of a lifetime, a job so important it will also be her last. Wright refuses, but eventually, brought low by her son's debilitating illness, decides to see what the offer is. A meeting with slimy industry executive Jeff (Danny Huston) reveals the deal: Miramount Studios plan to motion-capture Wright and sample every possible element of her personality. After that, the real Wright will retire while the studio puts her virtual self into any film, sitcom or commercial it chooses. Initially she refuses, but, concerned for her son, she finally agrees to the process.

Of the film's two-hour running time, a good half takes place in the real world, but after 50 minutes Wright, heading to something called “The Futurist Congress” breaks open an ampoule, sniffs it, and is taken into a strange “animated zone”, where she becomes what she describes as a cross between “Cinderella on heroin” and “an Egyptian queen on a bad hair day”.

In this limbo world, which mashes up the hand-drawn style of Max Fleischer's Betty Boop cartoons of the '30s and that of more recent animations like Ren & Stimpy, Wright is presented with a second contract, one that goes even further.

In principle, this sounds like classic second-movie meltdown, and with a few more wrong steps it could easily have been another Southland Tales. Folman, however, keeps things simple, playing the movie industry for laughs while setting up a much more serious story about Wright and her family. Wright, as ever, is exquisite, and it's not only unusual to see a film that deals so clearly with the issue of sexism in movies, it's practically a miracle that the protagonist is also female.

The Congress slows down a little in the animated section, perhaps because this is where we lose the charismatic Wright to her 2D avatar, but this is still an extraordinary and very touching film that exists somewhere in the twilight zone between the existential brainteasers of Charlie Kaufman and the psychedelic wonders of Hayao Miyazaki.

There are no confirmed US or UK release dates for The Congress just yet, but given how well it was received in Cannes we expect that to change in the near future.

 


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

Cannes 2013: Scarlett Johansson Makes Summer Crossing
Adapting the 'lost' Truman Capote novel
Disney Re-Scales Pete's Dragon
UPDATE: David Lowery in talks to direct his script


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The 15 Most Controversial Alternate Endings
How some of your favourite films could have finished...

80 Of The Best Movie Star Adverts
From Sly Stallone selling bread to Hugh Jackman dancing for Ice Tea

Showrunner Matthew Weiner Reveals 7 Mad Men Secrets
The truth about The Beatles and that lawnmower

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Breakdown
Everything you need to know about the second teaser

Podcast #157: Alan Rickman
From A Little Chaos to Die Hard and back again

From Hell! 22 Stalker Psychodramas
From fatal attractions to single white females

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon On The Town That Dreaded Sundown
The American Horror Story director on his cult slasher remake

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Subscribe now and save up to 70%

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe now and save up to 70%
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)