Posted by Valentina Valentini on October 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm
The fact alone that ARGO was filmed entirely in Los Angeles makes me love the movie from the start. Except for probably some B-roll here and there and historic stock footage, the production designer, location managers and scouts, cinematographer and the rest of the crew did a number on the audience.
From Prince Frederick and Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Bel Air house used as producer Lester Siegel’s mansion, to the Ontario, CA airport used as the airport in Tehran, this movie never seemed to lack in its authenticity of bringing 1970s Iran and Hollywood – two completely opposite end of the spectrum locales – to life.
It was that authenticity that had us all on our seats from the mid-point of the film through to almost the end. I kid you not, I’ve never heard a collective sigh so audible in a movie theater when we learned that the hostages actually make it out alive. And yes, if you’re going to love this film, you need to NOT know the story of the 1979 Iranian hostage situation. Which, if you’re reading this review, I’ve now completely spoiled for you.
I think the movie can absolutely still be enjoyed for the acting, directing, production design and cinematography (love Rodrigo Prieto!) if you do happen to know the outcome of the story, but it certainly makes it better when you have to vicariously endure the fear those hostages did.
Ben Affleck has solidified an Oscar nom in my book with this one. However, I’m not sure if it will be for acting or directing – maybe both? But if he does get one for acting, it will only be because the old farts at the academy get a strong case of Groundhog Day when it comes to nominees across the board (i.e. nominating the same six movies in all categories, eeking out the chance of anything else getting a nod in ANY category). This is because, well, his acting was subpar. I kept thinking – ‘I’m watching Ben Affleck’….’ I wonder if Jennifer Garner and he have fights a lot’…. ‘I think he should keep the beard, it’s very in right now.’
But his direction – wow. The ensemble cast meshed well and played off each other’s stress and fear expertly. Tate Donovan is always a pleasure to watch on the screen and is due his day in the lead role asap.
Most importantly, though, I think for this type of film – that could easily be accused of treading too lightly on what was a dire and scary situation – it brilliantly straddled the line between clever Hollywood moviemaking tales and real-world drama. If there were a moment that you’d find yourself chuckling and forgetting about the deaths and destruction in Iran, just as your chuckle would die down you’d be taken back to a visual of a man hung from a crane or someone shot in the chest for not answering a question. This was an important point to make both for the integrity of the story and to the audience – maintaining the reality that just ‘cause we have fun and games here in LaLa Land, that doesn’t mean that the world stops around us.