Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Repeat Bidness: V for Vendetta

Remember, remember the fifth of November. In honor of Guy Fawkes Night and the rousing victory speech President-elect Barack Obama gave around midnight this day (EST), I thought it'd be appropriate to revisit this film:

V for Vendetta

Original Release:03.17.06

DVD Release: 08.01.06

Rated R
2 hours, 12 minutes

Full Price ($$$$)

"Who IS that Masked Man?!"

A great dish always starts with a great recipe. Using the Wachowski Brothers’ (The Matrix) adapted screenplay of the Alan Moore and David Lloyd graphic novel, first time director James McTeigue serves up one hell of a film for audiences. V for Vendetta is set in a totalitarian Britain made so by the outbreak of a war in Iraq. The people of Britain live a subdued life thanks to their government’s curfews and strict laws. The appearance of a darkly clad man in a porcelain mask, known only as V, awakens the population with promises of a life without fear. One citizen in particular, Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman, Mars Attacks!), finds herself embroiled in V’s treasonous plot to blow up Parliament. The government hopes to squelch V, his ideals and his dangerous promises by locating the aggressor and his would-be accomplice while countering their message with pro-government propaganda.

By enlisting the aid of the talented and effervescent Portman alongside the haunting demeanor of Hugo Weaving (The Matrix ), McTeigue had the toughest work of story-telling covered. Portman, adept at playing opposite non-existent Star Wars creatures, proved equally extraordinary acting opposite an expressionless face. Weaving spouts extensive, emancipative dialogue flawlessly, imparting eloquence to the purported monster behind the mask. When V is not haranguing the tyranny of the society, he is delivering severe yet stylistic ass-whoopins to anyone attempting to oppress. Portman gets in a few one-two punches herself though it’s her conveyance of Evey’s revelations and subsequent evolution that grips audiences.

If audiences are unsure of the film’s intent; yes, it has political undertones. The story is designed to inspire unease with complacency and to urge freedom of thought as the precedent to all other freedoms. Clever wordplay is found to be sharper and more lethal than any bombs, daggers or karate gimmicks V utilizes. Multi-layered meanings and the repetition of symbols and situations help bond the lives of the main characters as well as the lives of the masses. Surprisingly, the film is not action-packed but sets an exciting and thrilling pace simply through discourse and careful sequencing while the plot unveils. V for Vendetta is a contemporary allegory worthy of attention for more than its stylistic filming.

Dirty Undies
Well, Portman doesn’t sport a thong a la Closer, but audiences would flock if they knew she dresses in a “Good Ship Lollipop” motif complete with a lacy pink dress, knee high socks and Mary Janes, and let’s not forget pin curl pigtails. Had a few scenes of that image been included in the trailer, the opening box office would’ve increased by another $5 million, easy. Fans of Natalie need not worry about her hairless head; she looks almost sexy enough to bring the Sinead O’Connor cut back into fashion. Those not interested in Portman will be out of luck as Vendetta is devoid of anyone else attractive, unless bloated Brits or gaunt interment-camp prisoners are your thing. The action is good and bloody but occurs infrequently. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the scenes shown are very vicious and violent.

The Money Shot
No doubt, Vendetta has a bone to pick with oppression, and more so with any society that allows oppression to persist. The director cloaks the film in a veil of action and style but Vendetta’s memorable dialogue, contributed by both the vigilante and onlookers, will ring in your ears long after viewing. V for Vendetta can best be summed up by Evey: “Artists use lies to tell the truth. Politicians use them to cover it up.” You should pay to listen to what these artists are saying.

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  1. Having read the graphic novel, V was a total disappointment when i saw it in theater. Unnecessary issues were targeted (like V's mask) that were barely even touched upon in the book. And that shitty ending. Why change that great ending in the book to that crap one in the movie? BS!

  2. I've read lots of Alan Moore stuff, but shamefully, never V. I will add it to my Xmas wishlist at once to remedy this faux pas.