Remember, Remember, Michelle Reviews V for Vendetta!!!

Remember, Remember the 5th of November, so starts one of the most provocative movies in several years. V For Vendetta is a good old fashioned Hollywood message movie that doesn’t pull any punches. Yes you can say that almost every film nominated for Oscars this year were message movies, but there is something different about how V’s message about terrorism, war, fascism is delivered.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not subtle about it’s hatred of the establishment, or the fact that the comic book industry’s mad genius Alan Moore originally wrote the book in the mid 80s as a strong critique of Margaret Thatcher’s regime, and how much many of it’s themes hold up today. The story has been radically changed by the equally dark and brooding Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski who have been trying to get this film made for over 12 years.

This dark material is almost too perfectly suited to the duo’s warped view of the world. It’s surprising; ok not really, that Moore loathes this adaptation. This is where I have to say that I haven’t read Moore’s V for Vendetta, but I plan on picking up the graphic novel this weekend and reading it on my cross country flight next week.

Natalie Portman is mesmerizing as Evey a regular every day member of society who works as a mailroom clerk for the country’s only television station, who one night after curfew gets attacked by the local government security force (think the SS) called “Fingers.”

She gets saved by a mysterious masked vigilante, code named “V” (played by Hugo Weaving), once this happens she’s caught between V’s plot for revenge against the government who did him wrong and an oppressive government who will do anything to prevent “V” from carrying out his ultimate act of terrorism.

James McTeigue makes his directorial debut in this, his experience serving as a first unit director on huge special effects laden films like the Matrix and Star Wars franchises serve him well here, his direction is sure handed, he never loses sight of the film’s central message, and Every’s transition for every day worker to terrorist is fabulous.

It doesn’t feel forced at all, although there is a silly and unnecessary twist in the third act that almost destroys the film, because it forces Every into a certain course of action, but the reasoning behind it and her response to what happened to her made no sense at all, but Portman’s strong performance makes you stay with the film.

Every since The Crying Game, I’ve been a fan of Stephen Rae and he gives another strong performance as the conflicted Detective Finch a detective who doggedly pursues V and Every, he gives Finch a real heart and soul, and really the three main characters, V, Every, and Finch have a real 3 dimensional story arc that draws you in.

The problem with V is the acting of the rest of the players and of V himself.

Let’s start with V, the mask is incredibly stupid and doesn’t translate on screen well at all. V’s lyrical dialog draws you in and you can see how this guy could be charismatic, the problem is, it’s a struggle to make out Weaving’s muffled ramblings from behind the expressionless mask.

This would be a tough role for any actor to pull off, so even though I generally dislike Weaving, his performance in this is ok, it doesn’t match Portman’s level of intensity and her emotional roller coaster but it largely works. Probably due to he’s used “sparingly,” and he’s only on screen in scenes long enough to just get a sense of who V is.

Which brings me to another point, this film easily could have become unwieldy and sprawling, but McTeigue does an excellent job of maintaining a break neck pace, at over 2 hrs the film flew by, it never lingers too long on any one thing. Cinematographer Adrian Biddle gives the film a dark, dank and dreary look.

The one thing that I found curious is that the Government is supposed to be this repressive, fascist entity, and we get through the eyes of those being repressed, but it seemed as if the fast majority of the citizenry didn’t look repressed at all; which goes to the whole notion of mob rules and how folks out of the mainstream get feel the full brunt of government oppression.

V for Vendetta isn’t the type of film that you watch again and again, nor is it a film for everyone, it’s the type of polarizing experience that most people will either love or hate, I fall on the love side.

Final Grade A-

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 3/17/05

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