Films | Agro – Movie Review

Agro – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on October 19, 2012 | No Comments

FILM – Argo
PRODUCER – Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney
DIRECTOR – Ben Affleck
WRITER – Chris Terrio (‘The Master of Disguise’ by Antonio J. Mendez and ‘The Great Escape’ by Joshuah Bearman
CAST – Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
MUSIC – Alexandre Desplat

The year was 1979. The Iran-US conflict was brewing to a boiling point after US continued to give asylum to the overthrown and exiled Shah of Iran. The populace of Iran that had led and won the Iranian Revolution were outraged with US’ support to the Shah and its interference in the matters of their country. The anger saw an outbreak on November 4, 1979 in the famous US embassy ambush in which the revolutionary army took 52 Americans as hostage. Six managed to escape, provided refuge by the Canadian embassy and were later rescued under dramatic circumstances with the joint efforts of the CIA and the Canadian Govt. Argo details this episode.

The film is a dramatised version of the events, taking broad liberties at various points. It places its narrative focus on a CIA ex-filtration agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) and hands-holds us through a threateningly gradual and tight narrative that is nail-biting to its finish. In reality Tony created a fake movie scenario, enlisting the help of John Chambers, celebrated make-up artist and Lester Seiel, a veteran film big-wig to get the six Americans safely out of Iran. The film centres on the rescue act, never mulling on the details but taking care of each with a firm hand.

It dishes out delicious snippets of life in LA’s glam world but resists the temptation to play to the gallery, quickly whisking us off to the real drama – the lives of the six in peril. Although a film that places itself in a larger political context, this is not a politically ambitious film. It aims to tell a story and keeps within those confines. In true Affleck style, who is also the director, (his third directorial outing) the film maintains the integrity of the story. He chooses a sombre mood and grave tone, shades that seem perfectly suitable to this part of history.

Set in the 70’s, the film is a classic example of a period piece. Retro hair-dos, styling, colours and visual palette form a distinctly dated piece, the pleasure of which is enhanced even more by the deliberate graininess of the film. Through art direction, styling and more Affleck draws up a completely authentic set-up. But we are able to buy into it because of the tight grasp he keeps on his narrative. The film is a thriller, a dramatic piece yet nowhere does a larger-than-life sensibility reveal itself. Understated music and controlled acting come together to give us what is easily a superbly-crafted film.

A stronger writer-director than an actor, Affleck owns his role as the tight-lipped, grim man on a suicide mission with command. The long-haired and bearded look suits him and he holds the film together exactly as the centrepiece he is meant to be. Equally delightful are John Goodman (John Chambers) and Alan Arkin (Lester Seigel) in their assured performances which they seem to absolutely enjoy.

Fact is stranger than fiction but when fictionalised in a film as powerful as this it simply affirms the sheer joy that movies can be. Argo is an authentic, powerful and immensely taut film has us cheering for it right till the end. And justifiably so.

FATEMA KAGALWALA

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