Film Review: “The Congress” (2013)

The Congress

Director: Ari Folman

Writers: Stanislav Lem (novel The Futurological Congress), Ari Folman (adaptation)

Stars: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Danny Houston, John Hamm, Paul Giamatti, Sami Gayle


“A story of how Hollywood treats its aging female stars.” Robin Wright is Stunning and Brilliant!

Synopsis: An aging actress Robin Wright is about to lose her popularity. Because of her bad reputation and an inability to hold her temper on the set, she lost many contracts in Hollywood.  Most studios refused to work with her.  Being so capricious, whimsical and unreliable, film producers are not willing to offer her roles anymore. Finding herself in a desperate situation, she accepts one last job…

I watched “The Congress” more than six times before starting to write this. I was not sure where to start, or how to start describing this tremendously unbelievable, mind-blowing movie directed by Ari Folman. How to tell what`s this movie about without giving away spoilers?  With “The Congress” it`s almost impossible. But I will try my best to not give away the spoilers of the movie, and keep you interested until you watch it.

The beginning of the movie is always important. It does not matter how it starts: with the death of the main character, or with the birth of a newborn. The opening scene of “The Congress” is probably one of the best I`ve even scene in movies. The most memorable has to be the opening scene of “The Hours” with Nicole Kidman, where Virginia Woolf commits suicide by drowning herself in a river with a stone.

But let`s get back to “The Congress”. The opening scene of this film starts with monologue of Al (Harvey Keitel) telling Robin Wright how impossible she is. He also tells her that he has been trying to help her for the last 25 years to save her career. But her inability to make a right choice destroyed Robin`s bright future. With her reputation being so unreliable and erratic, many studios do not even want to get closer to her with a life-change offer. While Al (Harvey Keitel) was straight-forward in his speech, Robin listens to him with a desperate facial expression. In this scene, Robin`s ability to have a nonverbal communication amazed me. She was able to express countless emotions without saying a word.


Finding herself in a desperate situation, Robin Wright (she plays herself) accepts one last job by selling the rights to her digital image to Miramount Studios in exchange for a big sum and the promise to never act again. In return, the studio promises to keep the new 3D Robin forever young in the movies. Jeff easily convinces Robin to sign a contract, saying that the era of actors and actress is about to end. Nobody wants to see an old actor who’s unable to express a little facial emotion due to countless plastic surgeries. A mother of two decides to let the studio scan her image to be used in all kinds of computer generated films, to stay young as she was in “Princess Bride”.

One of the scenes in the “The Congress” simply deserves to be called a “masterpiece”.

The moment when Robin Wright enters the lab to be scanned was stunningly beautiful. In the following scene we see the ensemble of  emotions on Robin`s face while Al (Harvey Keitel) tells her the story of his life, and how he met her, and loved her so much to forget and forgive her anything and everything. She demonstrates us a sense of emptiness, sadness, happiness, frustration and curiousness. It is really hard to describe that scene, unless you see it with your own eyes. 

But the fascinating part of the movie starts when 20 years later Robin Wright attends at the Futuristic Congress in Abraham City, where she cannot appear the way she looks: it`s a private animated zone owned by Miramount  Studio. Only way she can appear in the Futuristic Congress is as animated version of Robin Wright. And that is where exactly the live-action part of the film ends, giving a way to an animated part, which is absolutely magnificent.

Director of “Waltz with Bashir”, Ari Folman considered Cate Blanchett to star in his film. But will all my respect to Mrs Blanchett, I am glad that Robin Wright was chosen to be a part of this fantastic project called “The Congress”.

Most of you probably know Robin Wright as Jenny Curran from Forrest Gump, or as Moll Flanders. Some of you remember her as The Princess Bride. But to me, Robin Wright was always Kelly Capwell from classic soap opera “Santa Barbara’ where she played along with Marcy Walker, A Martinez, and Lane Davies. “Santa Barbara” was excellent acting school for Robin Wright to become who she is right now: A wonderful actress, with the ability to play any type of role she wishes to. And this time, as usual, she made a perfect choice to play an actress whose likeness is scanned and used for jobs she has no control over.

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