As we settled into our seats in Screen One in the Savoy Cinema, Dublin, Ireland, we wondered how on earth Stuart Townsend could exposit the intricate workings of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to an audience who probably had no idea that it even existed.
We were not disappointed. From the breathtaking opening sequence, to the exhilarating ending, we were on the edge of our seats.
There were some outstanding performances André Benjamin as Django (from the band Outkast) and Michelle Rodriguez as Lou (best-known in Europe for the TV series 'Lost') in particular were superb as two of the demonstrators. André injected an unfailing sense of humor and light relief into this serious topic, and managed to turn his unusual headgear into a clever statement about endangered species. Michelle gave her character exceptional depth and feeling, and handled a complicated emotional sub-plot with a mixture of both detachment and passion that worked so well on screen.
Charlize Theron played an innocent bystander, Ella, who was trapped in the violent maelstrom, with horrific consequences for both her own character and her character's husband.
During the Q&A with Stuart and Charlize at the end of the movie, an audience member stood up an employee of the World Bank. She began by saying how cautious she was about coming to a movie about the WTO, but that she had to applaud Stuart for handing such a difficult subject so fairly. Her comments were echoed by a Trade Advocacy officer from a well-known Irish development charity, who congratulated him on creating a movie which managed to be both factually accurate and entertaining.
For anyone who has ever wished that this world was a better place, this movie is a must-see. For everyone else, this is a heart-warming movie about the power of the human spirit to overcome, to work together and to forgive.
(And as a footnote, Stuart gave free passes to the screening to protesters from the Campaign to Save Tara, who are still demonstrating against the construction of a new highway, the M3, in the historical valley at the Hill of Tara in Ireland. Stuart walks his talk.)
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