User Reviews (70)

  • Magic Mike24 September 2013
    9/10
    Beautiful, innovative, subversive, brave
    The movie itself is a metaphor for some of the new trends that are happening around us. It makes a hinted implicit discussion about things like the Internet culture (avatars, virtual life), Intellectual Properties, rights, freedom, terrorism, capitalism, life extension. The movie is deep and few people can really get to the bottom of it and get the messages. My wife for example, got out from the movie unable to explain it. I, on the other hand, thought that the messages in the movie were powerful. It reminded me for moments "Vanilla Sky" and the "Matrix" though a bit different. The animation seems deliberately hand made and old (as Disney's movies) and I believe this is yet another critique about the cutting-edge Pixar computerized movies, made by hundreds of people and co-producers that shape up each character (which is an owned intellectual property). Producing this movie was a bold and brave move – it may get mixed critique from the intelligent, and might be mocked by the superficial crowd, but I say it is brave and brilliant!
  • FilmMuscle30 May 2014
    5/10
    A Unique Idea Eventually Turned Into a Muddled Mess
    Warning: Spoilers
    The Congress explores a fascinating concept that I've always contemplated ever since my realization of technology's limitless advancement: how indispensable are actors, exactly, or any other worker for that matter? How much are we all worth to powerful corporations that use their affluence for improving efficiency and convenience, consequently attenuating and diminishing the workforce with the introduction of stunningly-adaptable and proficient computers/machines.

    This is what Robin Wright faces (quite interestingly portraying herself in this role) as an actress whose best work is far behind her. Suddenly, a vastly impressive, yet potentially detrimental, new system has materialized as studio execs attempt to convince her into scanning her entire body, motions, and all sets of emotions so that they won't need her anymore, thus branding Robin as a merely expendable human being. In the future, they'll be able to use her likeness whenever they want in whatever film they choose. She's nearing her 70th birthday? No big deal; she's still 30 years old in her scanned form—on the big screen. While she's retired and spending the rest of her days either on vacation or miserably attending to her ill son (whose health—vision—is gradually deteriorating), her semblance is starring in some enthralling and intense action flick as a young, sexy spy.

    With the way I described it, it seems like this newly-realized technology has many remarkable assets, but at the same time, it clearly possesses sizable flaws. The worker is therefore deprived of any right/ability of choice (in this case, especially), and one's identity— one's character—is no longer in their control. It is now in the hands of a possibly avaricious, manipulative, typically corporate Hollywood studio. Robin's under a lengthy contract, and there's nothing she can do about it from that point on. From the time of her signing, she is forbidden to act ever again—forbidden to express her talents. She is hence a nobody who isn't given any hint of attention and praise any longer.

    As you can see, the film starts out with such a unique and original premise. The first hour of the picture continually fleshes this idea out to the fullest extent. And during that hour's duration, time really flies by and the movie's engaging quality persists throughout. However, all of a sudden, the film takes an unexpected and bizarre direction towards its last half, guiding us into an animated world as opposed to the prior live-action format. It's with this final act that the film unfortunately stumbles and loses its original vision. The plot becomes embarrassingly incoherent and escapes into hallucinatory and purely trippy chaos. This would be an accurate depiction of my reaction as the film progressed: "What? Huh? Oh okay, I get it. Wait, what? What's going on? Oh, okay…" It's a truly frustrating experience that amounts to a strange and unsatisfying climax that's swathed in ambiguity and confusion. The Congress is the exemplar of how unevenness can truly spoil a narrative, carrying a compelling concept at first but squandering its potential simply because the storytellers had no idea how to continue the tale after its concept had been fully explained.
  • Rob Shaff11 August 2014
    5/10
    On balance not a very good film
    Warning: Spoilers
    For me this film has more negatives than positives about it. The start of the film raises interesting and important issues about identity, life choice, regret, the right to choose how you are portrayed, if it should be possible to completely sell your image and then why we make the choices that we make (even if they go against our beliefs). The second part is excellently animated, colourful, imaginative, psychedelic and funny. The final part explores the implications of living in a fantasy world and denial of the truth.

    The biggest niggle I have is that it feels like two films that don't belong together. Very few of the juicy questions of the first act where expanded upon or explored in the second. Or if they are, they are obscured by the mixed metaphors and confusing tangents in the animated world.

    What the plot effectively puts forward is this: We invent a way to replace actors by scanning and animating them, and then in the future people live in a drug induced fantasy world, finally we loose touch with what is real and while living in a utopia in our heads we live in squalor in real life. The film does a very bad job of justifying how these points were reached. Of course sci-fi uses far fetched ideas and would be pointless without the wilful suspension of disbelief. But honestly they lost me as soon as she took the drugs to enter the animated world. (In fact it was so random and over the top that I thought we were just watching a short dream sequence or spoof sci-fi film the likes of which she specifically said in her contract that she did not want to be in!)

    On top of this disconnect between the two stories, the narrative thread falls apart in the animated world. There are so many conflicting ideas introduced that its hard to tell what actually means anything and what anything actually means. Perhaps this is the point the film is trying to make? There is of course the narrative thread of the actress who has to make difficult decisions to survive and protect her family, she gets caught up in a revolution, (goes mad?), wakes up in a dystopian future and then tries to find her lost son. But again the impact of this thread is almost completely lost in the mess of confused ideas.

    I cant help feeling like the film would have been better off if it had just focused on the main protagonist in the present. The affects of being digitised could slowly unravel and we get to see the emotional toll that that took on her and her family leading finally to a real conclusion. Perhaps it could climax in some decisive action to regain her identity, or hopeless resignation to the unfairness of it all, or a revelation that there are some things that cannot be bought and can never be taken away from you. Its such a shame it had to fly off on an incoherent tangent after such a sober and well constructed beginning.
  • Seemp deHond22 December 2013
    8/10
    Beautifully executed doom Scifi
    It's two movies really the first part where you feel the impending doom set upon Robin Wright as she is caught between either professionally die off soon or make a deal that takes it all.

    It so vividly explores the fine line between choice and the illusion of having one. The second part has a strong resemblance to Waking Life in it's psychedelic execution more than Waltz with Bashir. Existentialism, morality, Corporatocracy and the beautiful animation make this the most marvellous yet terrifying Sci-fi I have seen in ages. Watch Harvey Keitels monologue in the first half, it is outstanding. Robin Wright is as always amazing and gets extra kudos for playing herself in an alternate universe where her career has failed. It is all together a masterpiece.
  • drchazan26 September 2013
    8/10
    Amazing and Horrifying
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'm not sure I understood this film, but it is at once the most amazing and horrifying film I've ever seen.

    The idea that we could end up in a world where we are drugged into "freedom" of a life without care, living in our own imaginations, while are bodies are hardly more than zombies is what I found horrifying. The realization of this through the mixture of animation and live action is what was amazing.

    Mind you, I did find Harvey Keitel sounded a bit stilted - as if he was uncomfortable in the part. However, there was one scene with him, however, that made all his stiffness forgivable, when he talks to Robin while she's being scanned. Just perfect!

    From what I can see, people aren't terribly happy that only the essence of the book has made it to the screen, but that's nothing new - and those who are cult fans of Stanislaw Lem's dystopian novel "The Futurological Congress" would never be happy with any film version. Not having that disadvantage, I think makes it easier to look at this film subjectively. And while the story isn't terribly unique - a tale of rebellion by one person who is looking for something that the new world they're living in can't give them - there is a twist to the classic ending.

    This won't win any awards, simply because its probably far to avant-garde to be judged alongside any other films. That's Ari Folman for you! Did I like it? I'm not sure. For the artistry, it certainly deserves high ratings. As for the story, the concept is a scary one, making it something you won't easily forget, that's absolutely certain. I'm just a touch wary that the realization was just a touch too restrained in spots, but when he takes off, you'll just want to take flight with him. I only wish he did so more consistently throughout the film.

    I hope others here see it, because I'd like to know if I'm totally off base or not in my humble assessment.
  • sarah_venn17 December 2013
    6/10
    Strange, visually striking and will make you think
    Warning: Spoilers
    See this review on the Bath Film Festival blog:

    http://bathffblogger.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/the-congress/

    The Congress was 4 years in the making by director Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir). The film is based on the book The Futuroligical Congress by Polish Stanislaw Lem, first published in 1971. Though Folman doesn't follow the book to the letter, the main character is female rather than male and the story of chemical dictatorship is changed to that of the film studio running the world, it does stay true to its core.

    Robin Wright (played by herself) is approached by her agent Al (Harvey Keitel) for a lucrative role that will make her career. After going over all the poor choices she made over the years, he tells her how she can reap the rewards with never having to work again. Mirramount studios in the form of gnarly film boss Jeff Greene (Danny Huston) wants to buy her image and use it to make movies without the need for her to be present. After much deliberation, and swayed by realising what treatment money can buy for her son Aaron (Kodi Smit McPhee) who has a rare condition, Robin signs the 20 year contract.

    20 years later when Miramount studios wants Robin to renew her contract she travels to the Abrahama hotel, which is also hosting The Futurist Congress. To get there she breaks open a cartridge sniffs it, and is taken into the strange animated world. This is where the film gets wacky and surreal with around 50 minutes of the film in the quirky animation. Here Robin Wright looks like a cross between "Cinderella on heroin and an Egyptian queen on a bad hair day" as she describes herself. Details of the new contract unfold not only do they want to keep the image and personality of Robin Wright, but now also want to own the chemical of Robin Wright so that people can swallow a pill and become her. So not only can you watch your favourite celebrity, you can become them. Later Robin returns to the present day after being frozen in the animated world for an unknown length of time where the world is unrecognisable.

    The film looks into many areas such as sexism, ageism, capitalism, identity and the human condition. It gives a view of a dystopian future where people can escape reality and become who they want to be by just taking a pill, fueling the celebrity obsessed culture and where reality is secondary and the world they have programmed and built is preferred and worshiped.

    So I had high expectations of this film before I went in, and I left a little disappointed and a bit confused. Yes, it looks amazing and it talks about lots of interesting themes, but I think it lost itself in parts and made it over complicated. At first I thought that maybe I just didn't get it and it was too intellectual for me but I found other reviews that had the same viewpoint. Equally there are other reviewers who love it, so it's proving to be a bit of a Marmite film. I wouldn't dismiss the film totally though, I can see that there has been loads of work on the script - the film itself has a lot to say as well as being visually stimulating. I definitely think I would watch it again, and would urge you intrigued cinema goers to seek it out and make up your own minds. I suggest you take a look at the web page www.thecongress- movie.com, which has lots of visuals, behind the scenes and an interview with the director Ari Folman.
  • Drive-in_Zeppelin6 October 2014
    6/10
    An eccentric and muddled mess of what resembles Sci-Fi
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is dense, like…really dense. On one hand, it's an eccentric and bold drama about the illusion of freewill and on the other, it's a highly metaphorical commentary on social trends and personal identity. I can't say much about its director Ari Folman since I haven't seen any of his work, but I will say that he's extremely ambitious since this movie is basically a giant middle finger to Tinsel-town and a lot of the industry changes that have happened over the last few decades.

    The Congress stars Robin Wright as a washed up version of herself that is offered one final contract that essentially gives Miramount studios, a fictional conglomerate movie studio, the exclusive rights to, well, Robin Wright. They scan her body, her personality, her emotions, and essentially all that is the aging actress into a computer to use as they see fit and crank out Robin Wright movies whenever they want.

    Naturally there is a catalyst for her accepting the offer since she initially has the common sense to refute her agent's (Harvey Keitel) demands; her son has some rare disease that's going to leave him deaf and blind. In the end, she accepts a large sum of money in exchange for her promise to not act again for the next 20 years or so. Paul Giamatti makes an appearance as the kid's doctor and Danny Huston also shows up as the film executive guy.

    The Congress is the latest film adaptation of a book written by none other than Stanislav Lem the visionary Polish Author. Now, what you're probably not expecting, much like I wasn't, is once the film has fast forwarded 20 years to when Wright's contract is expiring, that the film would suddenly turn into an Acid-Trip.

    Yes, the roughly 70 year old Robin Wright in the movie is invited to speak at The Futurological Congress and ingests some psychotropic drug that turns her world into a cartoon. No seriously, the movie is animated like an old Disney film for the next hour or so of the film. This is the part of the film that started to lose me, and I have to be careful of spoilers, but essentially the corporate fat- cats at Miramount (Love the portmanteau of Miramax and Paramount by the way) want Robin to advocate some new drug that allows you to become whoever you want. So for instance if you wanted to become Robin Wright you'd just drink her essence and become her (in cartoon land).

    Basically in the future people are free to take a drug that turns changes their perception of the world into a trippy cartoon. Robin spends most of the movie trying to find her son and the whole film I couldn't help but think of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Like I said, it's a trip.

    I can't say I liked this film, but I did find it extremely interesting. It's incredibly inventive and ambitious, but I wonder if it isn't a little too ambitious. It's full of subtle humor that blends nicely with the depressed tone of the film, and you'll find yourself having a few good laughs when you recognize famous characters and actors as their cartoon avatars are presented. As far as the whole 'decadence of our times' commentary goes, I couldn't help but think of The Matrix which is more or less concerned with the same themes as The Congress. Individuality and the illusion of freedom both play heavily into Robin Wrights trippy journey (also a good name for the film) as well as a slew of other metaphors that I will leave you to discover for yourself.

    Read this and other reviews on the DriveInZeppelin website
  • quaseprovisorio18 March 2014
    8/10
    really good dystopia about modern days, but lacks a bit of focus
    It's a great allegory about the avatars of ourselves, on the social networks, on the smartphones and ipads. while, in the real world, people are getting poorer each day, wars are declared, people don't have water to survive. But this is mostly about identity. we sell it really easily, we want to be someone else, and someone can profit from that. Robin wright character is very well built, all her pain, her realization of being "old" for the job, the love for the kids.

    The problem is that the dialogues are too expositive sometimes, at certain parts it can get confusing it's truth. but it talks about today, it wants to amaze us visually , and makes us think about all the virtual networking we're having now a days. we are selling ourselves each minute on the internet,

    Really good stuff, highly recommended.
  • Bastian Pietsch8 September 2013
    9/10
    Surprising storyline and topic in excellent visualization
    Warning: Spoilers
    I just saw The Congress at the opening night of the Fantasy Filmfest in Cologne. I went in having no special expectations but seeing a well-made movie that somehow surprises me. Well I have to say, I never saw anything like this! The Congress starts out as a drama about an actress who has already had her best days. But soon it becomes a surreal critique on commercial industry and the exploitation of feelings for the use of profit at all. The combination of real film and animated film really does the job extremely well. You'll never understand the feeling of delusion better than when The Congress cuts from an hour- long orgy of flashing colours and amazingly designed characters and creatures in the world of hallucinations to the harsh truth in the reality. On top of the great storyline and the excellent animation, Robin Wright does a remarkable job in acting as herself. Also, if you are familiar with cinema, there will be plenty of references - some very subtle, some not at all - that add a lot of humor to the movie. All in all The Congress is an experience like there are just a few in cinema history. It's combination of styles (all equally well crafted) becomes a journey from love to loss to ecstasy to agony and therewith the excellent visualization of an surprising topic.
  • siderite16 November 2014
    9/10
    Brazil meets Roger Rabbit via Being John Malkovich... on LSD
    Ari Folman, the Israeli director and writer of this film, creates one of the most anti-Hollywood and anti-Holocaust films in a while. And when I am saying anti-Holocaust I mean against its use for financial or propaganda purposes, like most Hollywood movies about the subject.

    The story is weird, wonderful, but a little (a bit more, actually) confusing. The first half an apocalyptic of cinema's future, the movie continues with a full animated second half in a world where anyone can imagine anything, but produces nothing.

    It would be pointless to talk about the story line too much, since at the end of the film I had that dizzy feeling of "what the hell did I just watch?" and that most metaphors just flew around my ears and eyes. Enough to say that the film is really original, well acted, with good production values and fantastic visuals. I just wish I would have understood more of it.

    It all revolves around Robin Wright playing... Robin Wright. She first gets scanned so that her persona can be (ab)used by the funny named Miramount studio in any kind of film they choose and 20 years later she is chemically thrown into a world where reality appears as 1930's animation and everything is possible. At this point you realize that the story is not about an actress, or even cinema studios in general, but as everyday people that are actors in their own lives. The metaphors come out pouring in a psychedelic fashion that left me completely confused.

    Yes, there are some similarities to the Stanisław Lem book "The Futurological Congress", but one might argue that there were just as many influences from sources like the movie Brazil, or Matrix, or Roger Rabbit, why not? The outcome is not really an adaptation of anything, but a truly original work.

    My recommendation is to watch it. After all, nobody fully understands any work of art as the artist intended it. Instead we marvel at their complexity and beauty. And this film has plenty of both.
  • stansellb27 July 2014
    3/10
    Heh?
    Warning: Spoilers
    I love the concept of this film but its major problem is that it never truly defines the parameters of the world(s) it creates, which is something that every film like this needs to do. She is digitized, but then it's implied that her digital 'copy' and the real world are separate entities.

    We jump forward 20 years to her in her car. Is this her digital 'copy'? If so, have all of the other animated characters (mostly the insignificant ones) been scanned as well? This part takes a jump to it being all about chemistry. Why did they need to have the 'congress' in the animated world in either case? If in the future it changes to a chemical catalyst, how are they interacting with the digital copies they were implied to be?

    I really wanted to like this movie, the trailer made it sound like such an interesting concept. Kind of like mix between Inception, Roger Rabbit, Transcendence, and Cool World... but ended up being just disjointed and uninteresting. I kept waiting, baiting my breath, thinking that the next scene would bring everything together and things would start to make sense, but they never do. It just became odder and more strange as the film continued, pushing it further away from any baseline it may have set.

    Perhaps I'm too dense to appreciate this film but I always believed that a storyteller has to set parameters for the world they create. We can watch films like Roger Rabbit because they set the limits for the world the characters interact with. We allow for Space Sci-fi because they let us know the limits. We love superhero movies as long as they adhere to the limits of the universe the characters live in. If the characters don't, we can't relate on any level and lose interest and become confused.

    That's where this film lost me. Where did the real world end and where did the animated world begin? And if it's all a hallucination... what's the point in the end? I couldn't find any moral center or real motivation to her character aside from wanting to see her son again... which in the end just seems obtusely selfish. Oh well.

    Edit: I see a lot of people describing this film as different things. Some say she died and the animated world was her afterlife or re-incarnation or whatever. Some are saying the 'congress' and the 'rebellion' were like the Matrix or some alternate world. All of these individual descriptions of what is actually going on just re-enforce my point that if you don't at the very least define the parameters of your world there is really no point to telling the story... this is especially true in sci-fi.

    Toward the end of the film we see her cross over into the dystopian 'real' world via (presumably) chemical process. OK, did she have a body waiting to receive her consciousness? Was it the same body she crossed over with in the desert? What the hell was the 'congress' about anyway? Why would everyone want to be Robin Wright in the first place (I mean she is beautiful, but come on!)? We see that her 'scanned' self has obviously made some movies, but in the end, the whole scanning dilemma at the beginning of the film amounts to nothing!

    The other guy who just happens to look like Tom Cruise says they're the only ones who survived... why is that even important??? Why should we care??? People are obviously crossing over all the time using the chemical process! I mean they have an checkpoint system set up in the desert just for crossing over and coming back apparently!!! Her son crossed over willy-nilly. Her boss crossed over. Her 'animator' who fell in love with her crossed over! If crossing over is a euphemism for dying... how is she able to talk to her daughter from the other side... much less 'cross over' not once but twice after the 20 year jump.

    Again... what the hell is going on in this movie???

    "I like French films. Pretentious, boring French films. I like French films. Two tickets ce beau ple." -Jay Sherman.
  • lbolard31 July 2013
    6/10
    Sci-fi combining animation with acting.
    Warning: Spoilers
    By Linda Winsh-Bolard

    Israeli director Ari Folman is best known for " Waltz with Bashir , " an animated film with moral questions.

    Don't expect anything similar.

    Congress is a loose adaption of a novel by Stanislaw Lem. Lem envisioned a society under a dictatorship, whether local or global is unclear in the film, where the ruling class lives in real world and subjects majority of citizens to poverty and fear. Remaining citizens spend their lives under chemically induced dream. In their dream they can decide who and where they are, while their sub consciousness is reacting to a chemical that transports them into colorful, unreal world of combined dreams.

    Ari Fulman frames his film around the story of aging actress Robin Wright (she plays herself) who, after extremely lucky break, made number of irresponsible and bad choices and ended up with few options. Robin, who has two children, an ambitious daughter and a disabled son, decides to let the studio to scan her image to be used in all kinds of computer generated films.

    Some twenty years later Robin drives her Porsche Cayman into a desert to enter Abrahama City, a city where everyone, with the help of an ampule of chemicals, becomes an animated character; some of themselves, some of others. Their chemically induced reality is actually just their perception of the world.

    The adventure ends badly and Robin is frozen to be revived when the technology needed help her becomes available. That takes decades and when she does wake up, the world is a colorful comics.

    The film follows Lem' s idea loosely, but there is a dark, real side on the other side of this painting.

    The film is wordy. Particularly when the characters are in real world, the monologues and dialogs are lengthy, over explanatory and often should have been cut down.

    Stripped of color and Lem's vision of the future, the story becomes a journey of devoted mother to her disabled son. Robin seems to expect that everyone must bend to her need to be with her children and stand by her son. I found that unrealistic. In Robin's expectations and also in the written self obsession with sacrifices of a Mother, capital letter intended.

    It irritated me that Robin was so clearly thought to be so special by so many, when I could not find anything special about her. I am so tired of stories of the poor, lucky ones who had troubles to handle their luck. Would they rather be unknown and poor?

    Lem's philosophy of dictatorship that keeps people in the line by feeding them drug induced dreams is somewhat complicated: the film states that once the chemical is inhaled, the person ceases to exist in real world- in that case, do the bodies evaporate? It is not straight up killing, Robin came back using another chemical, so what is it? Is there no shortage of labor in the real world, if so many "cease to exist"? Who decides to stay and endure poverty, helplessness and hard work? Why?

    And why would the dictators use such chemical? It might reduce the enemy, but it will make it hard to run a society with able few people in it.

    About half of the film is acted, half animated. The acting, the film is star studded, is generally good even though, as I said, unwieldy lines, heavy handed and unnecessary, crowd the sound, ut the actors handle them better than most would.. Robin is standoffish and distant Al, her agent (Harvey Keitel) an old manipulator, Paul Giamatti the doctor in the know and so on.

    I have heard that the absent Tom Cruise played by Evant Ferrante missed on his best film part.

    The animation is colorful, lush, sprouting and adds to confusion in the vein of Avatar. Number of characters parade around the screen apparently just playing the background to Robin and her followers.

    Exploring the power of mind and politics gets largely lost in all that. Still, if you enjoy combination of animation and action, sci-fi and conspiracy, it might just work for you.

    Directed by: Ari Folman Written:Stanislaw Lem (novel), Ari Folman (adaptation) , Camera: Michal Englert Stars: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Jon Hamm, Paul Giamatti, Danny Huston and others
  • Jesse Boland17 December 2013
    9/10
    Alice in eXistenz. A great look at where we are heading with this drug away the problems world.
    Warning: Spoilers
    Now this is a great movie. Thank you holiday season. If they had named this "Being Robin Wright" that would have just been too spot on. This has got so much going on, and there is just so much great movie here. The basic story is a jumbled mess that you need to watch all the way through to really get the pay off, but there are so many wondrous things to see, and fantastic ideas put in play. The actors are all great, and the voice acting is just as emotionally gripping as the live performances. What a cast. You will have to suspend all your reasoning, and just let the movie take you through this Alice in wonderland sensation that just never seems to stop. There is a lot of the first time you ever saw the Matrix in here, and half the movie is like A Scanner Darkly drawn by Don Bluth back in the Last Unicorn days, and I loved this art. You will feel like you just stepped into the Cool World version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and it will take you some time to adjust. There is very little wrong with this movie, and so much has been done "Wright" that I really Enjoyed it, and would recommend this movie to anyone looking for something new. Great ending, so perfectly complete. There is a really new experience here, and you will enjoy most if not all of it as much as I did. Find a way to see, then support "The Congress".
  • David Ferguson13 April 2014
    6/10
    Some Bad Choices
    Greetings again from the darkness. As a fan of director Ari Folman's Oscar nominated Waiting for Bashir (2008), I was excited to see this one on the line-up at Dallas International Film Festival. While some will find The Congress a bit messy and difficult to follow, it certainly reinforces Folman's innovative and creative approach to story telling and filmmaking.

    The first half of the movie is live action and the second half is animated. The best description I can offer is as a social commentary, not just on Hollywood, but society. While "Her" makes the case for virtual relationships, this movie makes the case for virtual everything else! Robin Wright plays Robin Wright, an aging movie star who is offered a chance to stay young and be popular forever. Just sign this contract, and Miramount Studios owns your complete public image. No more acting, just kick back and enjoy your money ... and watch what we do with your image and career.

    The cast is very strong, but the movie has a feeling of having been rushed through production ... at least from the live action side. In addition to Ms. Wright, Danny Huston chews some scenery as a cut throat studio head. His blunt description of Ms. Wright's "bad choices" since The Princess Bride speak to not only many actors, but for many in the audience as well. Harvey Keitel plays the agent, Jon Hamm appears through voice only in the animated sequence, Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road) plays Wright's son and central plot figure, and Sami Gayle plays his sister.

    Some will be reminded of A Scanner Darkly, and others of Cool World. The best this movie has to offer is not in its (creative) presentation, but rather in its ability to provoke thought about the look of future society and the impact of technology ... as well as the whole issue of identity and what makes us who we are. It's a brain-scrambler if you stick with it.
  • johnnymurphy1529 October 2014
    3/10
    A boring and convoluted mess!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Dystopian ideas are great. When watching the trailer to this film, I could detect themes like escaping reality through hallucinogenic drugs, celebrity image and the obsession to stay young and thirdly, the ability to attain complete freedom. Sadly, all these great ideas and thought provoking themes turn out to be anything but great or thought provoking. Instead we are presented with a dull mash up of unfocused and confusing story threads. It does begin with an interesting set up of Robin Wright playing herself. She gets herself scanned as she is owned by the studio and they want a computerised version of her image with all the emotions included so they can do whatever they want with it. The scanning scene itself is very dull as we see a scanner trying unsuccessfully to make Robin Wright to feel each and every emotion while the scanning process is happening, but then Robin Wrights manager Al (Harvey Keitel) saves the day with a dull story which contains an emotional response of every kind and seems to go on forever! It then jumps to 20 years later when Robin Wright is a bit older and she ingests some sort of drug which enters her into a limitless, animated world. It seems quite unrelated as to what has happened before but we go with it anyway as the visuals and music are really quite lovely. What follows is a convoluted mess that is needlessly confusing and ironically shallow for a film that is satirising the shallow nature of celebrity. It is also very surprising that for a film where so much is happening and with all the great sound and imagery how boring it is. It really is dull because of the mess it finds itself in as the film goes on and I did find myself losing interest in all it's fragmented disarray.

    It really is sad to watch as there was obviously a talented team of creative people which made the great transitions from animation to live action possible. It is very meticulous and achieved brilliantly and for that I applaud the animators and visual artists. I think the pretentious and unfocused writing let it down and the need to cram in as much as possible so much so that not even the lasting memory will be wow! that looked fantastic, but more like, wow! I can't believe how boring that was!
  • C_pa_cool23 June 2014
    7/10
    Unique and splendid journey
    The Congress is a one of a kind movie, directed by Ari Folman, the same genius who brought us Waltz with Bashir. I personally really enjoyed it even though I found it a bit messy at times.

    The story evolves around Robin Wright, the famous actress we all know and who is playing here, her own self. Obviously, even though, she is playing herself, this movie only borrow facts from her life, it is not autobiographical...at all. Of course, Robin Wright is getting older and is not anymore the young & innocent actress we remember from The Princess Bride. Apart from these small facts, the story doesn't match Robin Wright's life. In this parallel world, she is an aging actress on the way of being forgotten, who is getting less and less movie offers, and who needs to take care of a sick little boy at home. Feeling powerless against the passing time, she decides to sell her body image to a film studio in order to remain young forever and come back to a more successful movie career. Then, starts an amazing journey in a colorful and unique universe that is shown through animation. But, of course, it is not only flowers and butterflies since, Robin Wright has very little control over her young, animated self.

    The up side of this animation is that it is limitless since it helps creating a crazy universe with splendid creatures, brilliant scenery... it all seems very magical. On the other hand, I feel like this "other world" is pushed maybe a little bit too far, and it can confuse the spectator.

    However, this movie passes quite powerful messages about existentialism, being part of a corporation, being dependent of your body image and most of all, it shows, metaphorically of course, what could be the future of the movie industry.

    All in all, even though it has some flaws, I highly recommend The Congress, it leads you to a unique and unforgettable journey, and I think you'll remember this movie for a while.
  • cinematic_aficionado18 August 2014
    4/10
    Great idea, a foiled execution
    A formerly famous actress who lost it all through poor choices she made has one more chance. A large studio offers to clone and copy her, make lots of movies and TV series with her whilst pay her very generously at the same time.

    There is a catch however; she will have no say in the choices the studio will make on her behalf.

    So far, so kind of good. The story is unusual and were genuinely intrigued as to where it will lead.

    From the moment she agreed despite her reservations (she was not exactly enthusiastic about being cloned although the lack of other offers forced her hand) the story took a turn from which it never recovered.

    Fast forward 20 years, she goes to attend a conference and she suddenly enters an animated world where we remained clueless as to what was real, hallucination, present or past. This remained the case until the end credits.

    A creative idea that lost its way and when the audience starts talking to one another or checking out their phones it is clear this film has failed in its aim.
  • 8/10
    Impressive mix of live action and animation
    Warning: Spoilers
    After his Oscar-nominated animation film Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman did mostly writing work for the last five years, for Israeli, Serbian and even Argentinian TV shows. But now, he's back with an incredibly innovative take on how movie industry will emerge in the coming decades and what decisions actors will have to make as a consequence.

    I think the one thing which makes this film so impressive is how Folman managed to link the live action and animation sequences which may have been unmatched in history so far (not that there are too many films that tried it). The film lasts roughly 2 hours. The first 45 minutes or so are exclusively live action and everything afterward is animated (with small exceptions right towards the end). It centers on actress Robin Wright who plays herself in a very emotionally stripped and disarming performance reflecting on her career choices and future in the profession as an actress. While she's clearly the center of attention we also get decent supporting performances from Danny Huston, Harvey Keitel and Jon Hamm. Giamatti, Smit-McPhee and Gayle's parts are too insignificant to really make an impact. Huston, however, has quite the money scene when he, as a ruthless agent, reflects on Wright's career choices and delivers an equally convincing speech just like Keitel when he talks to Robin about his way into the industry while she's in the box unable to continue. Mad Men star Jon Hamm only does voice-work (sorry ladies!) in the animated sequences, but pretty much nails the part as well.

    As emotionally investing as the first half was, I had some struggles with the story when the film entered the animation part. They could have probably cut 10-15 minutes there and it would not have decreased the film's overall quality. The Steve-Jobs-reference felt out of place too. But it was still extremely well-made. I have to say I wasn't as moved by the plot of Wright in relation to her son as I would have liked to (except the final meeting of Wright and Giamatti's character which was truly emotional) and as the whole film pretty much turned around this storyline, I mainly enjoyed the brilliant animation without really thinking much deeper about the plot there and it may have been a good decision. It's done with incredible dedication to detail and I believe Folman topped his work from "Waltz with Bashir" with this one. So it was certainly worth the five years he made us wait. Very much recommended and, without a doubt, one of the most creative and innovative movies of the decade so far.
  • Cd108313 February 2015
    6/10
    Roger Rabbit takes a trip to The Matrix
    Warning: Spoilers
    Expectations for a film are very powerful. When we walk into a theater/put a disc into the player, we have an create an idea of what is in store. When the product delivered is different from our anticipations, our judgements can become skewed. Upon viewing the trailer for The Congress I believed I understood what the film was going to be about; after finishing the film, I have no idea what I just watched. The plot I understand, it's everything else that I'm still hazy on. The general idea of the film is that Robin Wright, playing herself, is given a final role. The role is to become a product. No longer allowed to act, Wright will only be seen on screen via her computer generated avatar. Her initial hesitation to this offer are obvious. Robin doesn't like the idea of a conglomerate film company controlling her image. This idealistic desire is immediately shot down by her agent as the film makes it important to note that Robin Wright's career has been a colossal failure. Every decision she has made is a bad one and her decision to decline this opportunity of a lifetime is just another example of it.

    Once Robin agrees to sell off her image for peanuts, she wants the process to take no longer than it has to and requests the scanning process be completed right away. Despite her forceful request, she still acts reluctant to have the procedure. This indecisiveness is prevalent throughout the film as we're never quite sure what her priorities are. What does Robin want? She says that she wants to save her son. Even the trailer puts the plot point as a primary objective, but that case isn't made very clear during most of the story. There are moments here and there where she reminds us all, but the film puts the sizzle before the steak and that ends up being its defining flaw. There ends up being an important moral message at the core of the film. It's not until the end that we even get an inkling of what it's trying to say, but it's there nonetheless. The Congress does a good job early on building likable characters within Robin's family. We learn that her son, Aaron, has a disease that is slowly deteriorating his vision and hearing. We are also introduced to Robin's 'daughter', who inexplicably disappears a third of the way into the movie. The only character established early on who remains one of relevance is "Miramount" studio executive and antagonist, Jeff Green. Instead of further fleshing out these characters, we are given an out of this world experience that becomes far too bizarre for most to grasp on a single viewing.

    The film is directed by Ari Folman and was loosely adapted from a 1971 Science-Fiction novel, "The Futurological Congress." Folman is someone I wasn't familiar with prior to now. His prior films were non- English documentaries and even this film is not considered an American film as it was first released over in Europe. Folman's approach for the Congress is what many could consider avante-garde, despite the fact that it's really not presenting anything new. The hybrid live-action/animation film has been done many times before (Roger Rabbit, Cool World, Looney Tunes) and the alternate state of mind film has been done before. (The Matrix, Inception, Trance) The Congress attempts to do them together and it mostly succeeds. Mostly. Visually, the film is remarkable. From the very beginning, before the animation kicks in, the colors and lighting are amazing. The colors pop from the screen and cinematically the film draws you in for something you know is going to be special. Once we transition over into the 'alternate' state of being, the sophisticated beauty is replaced with a uncanny callback to classic cartoons of day's past. The idea being that the experience is unique to each person who implies Robin's experience is a reflection of her childhood surrounded by traditionally animation while a younger individual may create a world of CGI. I'm interested in watching more behind the scenes of the film, if only to learn more about how it was created. How have the technologies advanced from earlier films with similar visual styles.

    When a film features a cast of Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti, Harvey Keitel, and Jon Hamm I would expect the acting to be in the bag. While the plot does a good job of creating characters I want to get to know, the dialog is dull and apathetic. It's almost as if everybody lost a bet and was forced to do this film pro-bono. The moment Robin steps inside the world of animation for the first time, her attitude approaches apathy. She acknowledges the novelty of it as if she were looking at a caricature of herself at the state fair instead of living it out. This lack of interest in the world she inhabits is infective as I felt the same way

    The Congress is one of those films I absolutely will have to watch again in order to have a true opinion of the quality. The disjointed nature made it difficult to follow and boring at times. I found myself not caring about what happened. It felt more like a tour inside the world it created instead of a story being told. The end felt rushed if only because I didn't know where we were going. So when we arrived I was surprised at where we ended up. Despite my overwhelming criticisms of the film, I love the premise and visuals enough that I'd be able to view it again in order to gain a better understanding of the message being told.

    Read this and my other reviews at CD1083.com
  • Red_Identity2 August 2014
    Innovative, if frustrating
    This sounds like exactly the type of thing that I love. It's only because of my expectations that I found it somewhat disappointing. Still, it's worth taking a trip into. Wright has recently proved to be in full force (House of Cards) and this is no exception. She's brilliant, and even does wonderful things in the animation section of the film, along with Jon Hamm, who uses his smooth, sexy voice to bring some true wonders to his limited screen time. Overall, the animation section did sort of lose me a bit, especially because I wanted it to go to even better places, but as it is, this is very much worth seeing. Definitely seek it out, even if it's not in Waltz With Bashir's
  • Rectangular_businessman25 August 2017
    10/10
    A criminally underrated film
    Warning: Spoilers
    After reading so many complaints posted on the web about the lack of originality in modern movies, one would think there would be a lot of support and praise towards a film that tries to do something different and unique, but it seems that complex (or merely unconventional) narratives are loathed here on IMDb. But then again, this is the same website that gives extremely inflated ratings to a lot of generic superhero flicks. It is also the only website where a show like "Mr. Pickles" could be rated so high.

    Anyway, "The Congress" is a wonderful film. Of all the movies that combined live-action with animation through the history of cinema, this might be my favorite. Plot-wise, "The Congress" might be closer to movies like "Inland Empire" rather than "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". And the balance between the live-action parts with the animation is simply excellent.

    Some people say that it would have been better if the "Hallucination" parts were done in live-action, but I disagree: The animation sequences (Which make a marvelous combination of psychedelia with an art style reminiscent of the work of Max Fleischer) not only gives the story a proper dream-like feel to the story (Opposed to a dry and forgettable portrayal of dreams as it was seen in movies like "Inception") but also serve as a subtle commentary about modern-day obsession with escapism: It's something and subtle the way the thin line between fantasy and reality fades away as the plot of the film progresses, until the bitter reality is finally showed in a rather heartbreaking manner. Like at the end of "Waltz with Bashir", when the animation changes into live-action, we as viewers are forced to confront a harsh reality that cannot be ignored, and that reality is that living with our backs turned to the problems of today only will have dire consequences in the future, and we will have to deal with those consequences in one way or another. I guess that a message like that could be hard to swallow for many viewers, but I personally think that in this day and age, a message like that it's more necessary than ever.

    I hope "The Congress" gets eventually vindicated by history. Maybe in the future, people will be able to appreciate more its daring qualities. For now at least, the future of cinema seems bleak, with all the same generic stuff making billions at the box office while the actually challenging movies are perpetually ignored. A shame, really.
  • Voyou Nobodysbusiness17 January 2014
    5/10
    Beautiful but disappointing
    Warning: Spoilers
    Just look at the poster or read the IMDb plot, and you probably want to watch The Congress. I found it promising, and the viewing was indeed promising for a while... until the story jumped into the future.

    After a series of acted scenes, some very good, some not so very good but still good enough, the story skips 20 years. That's already a bit disappointing because that cuts out the introductory theme - an actress being replaced by a virtual copy of herself. What's worse, the real Robin then moves into an animated world. And, unfortunately, she stays in it for a long long time.

    There are 2 main problems to follow, or simply enjoy, the rest of the story.

    First, I now feel completely disconnected. Not having taken any drugs myself, I can enjoy for a while the beautiful pictures, but since anything can and does happen at any time, my brain starts thinking about something else to keep itself busy. I find nothing interesting in following someone else's hallucinations. To the point where, for the first time in my long life of watching animations, I wish I could fast forward and see if we finally go back to a real world at some point.

    Foremost, when I try to consider the events as if really happening (which of course I did), I end up in a completely impossible world. If Robin is really walking, driving, meeting people with altered perceptions, how does she not car crash or fall from heights ? How do people recognise each other if everyone sees things their own way ? How do people eat, wash, physically survive if they are constantly out there ? What's the point for the corporation to produce the drug, if to lose customers forever ? I assume the leaders themselves do not use their drug (we don't see them, we see what she sees), but why did Robin take the drug in the first place, swallowing it just like that despite her being clean and dedicating her life to her son in need ? Et caetera, et caetera.

    Once again, an anticipation story that shows us a world that cannot function. Or the K.Dick-like dreams of a comatose Robin after she crashed her Porsche into a desert rock, or a boat, or a giant white rabbit, or whatever. Either way, not as engaging a story as it should have been.

    Maybe I should rate it lower than average... but I still find the Congress worth watching at least once.
  • kosmasp19 January 2014
    5/10
    Two for the price of one
    The message is delivered very early on. And acting wise it is superb in its first part of the movie. It still hangs on too long on that part, feeling like a gum that loses its flavor. Of course the flavor has a bit of comeback when we get to the animated part of the movie (there are still people out there who can't bear the thought of watching anything animated).

    It still never reaches really new heights story wise. It does look good (especially if you like the drawing style presented), but there is nothing to add to the first section of the movie, only delving a bit deeper into the thought process. But not enough to make this really essential in my book. It might be either too weird or not complex enough for most of the viewers.
  • seanmft23 June 2015
    1/10
    Possibly the worst movie I've ever seen
    A movie about movies; Pretentious, humorless, pseudo-art-house garbage. This film starts out with a scene in which Robin Wright's agent (Harvey Keitel) is reaming her out for all the bad movie choices she's made. It seems the plot (if there is a plot) exists only to validate that first speech with a bizarre kind of meta allegory damning Robin Wright's acting career. If that really was the intention, and not just a bit of accidental irony, then I give it two stars. I wanted to like this movie, and believe me I tried. The dialogue feels purposefully glib and awkward, so much so that I was waiting for it to tie in with the surreal nature of the subject, but it never does. The Congress is a film that questions reality so much that it fails to set up any foundation upon which questions can be asked. Not only are there no answers, which can make a film thought-provoking, but no meaningful questions. The result is something substantially less profound than your average Road Runner cartoon, and less entertaining than a documentary about documentaries. Images flash before your eyes, sounds pummel your ears, yet nothing of consequence ever happens. Your 2 hr and 2 min could be better spent watching a lava lamp.
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.