Thursday, November 8, 2012

Argo (2012)

On my way home after watching Argo, I kept thinking how the film probably wouldn't have made the same impact if it was not based on a real incident. That's the advantage when films are based on true stories. But on the flip side, retelling a story people may be familiar with has its own troubles. What makes Argo one of best films of the year thus far is that it offers a deeply involving story with edge of the seat thrills.

The task of getting the six hostages out of Iran is insurmountable as it is. But the odds keep stacking up against them, with problems springing up from the unlikeliest of places. Iranian children putting together shredded documents, a house maid you cannot fully trust, natives who have recently developed a general dislike for foreigners, a movie crew shooting thousand miles away in Hollywood.. obstacles never stop cropping up.

It may not exactly be about that, but it still is one of the best movies about the movie business. Lines like "I took a leak next to Beatty during the Golden Globes", "Groucho said that?!" and “You're worried about Khomeini? Try the WGA." were so naturally insidery. Perfectly complementing the tense tone of the film, the many nervous laughs, courtesy Arkin and Goodman, saved me from having a stroke.

In spite of guessing the outcome of this grand, absurd plan, I was thoroughly hooked. I don't remember the last time I was as nervous during a film's key moments. I sank so deep in my seat during an airplane scene, looking at the screen through webbed fingers.

The opening moments which juxtaposed shots with actual footage instantly reminded me of Oliver Stone's JFK. This film is a tribute to all the unsung heroes who audaciously carried out this ludicrous plan. It's all about trusting the judgments of others and putting every last bit of faith in them. This bit reminded me of Moneyball. 

Affleck has made a movie with something for everyone. He has finally left his beloved Boston behind, has ventured to make a truly international film. The closing images of the film note how this event and its follow up is still considered an example of what can be achieved with international cooperation. The film is politically charged, and is very unbiased when it comes to pointing fingers. For some reason, I found it very heartening to see Canada get the honours. It's a film filled with many heroes.