Ben Affleck is an outstanding director. After the Boston crime double beginning with sensational debut effort Gone Baby Gone and his mini crime epic The Town he's taken the reigns of declassified true story known as Argo – the incredible true events surrounding the CIA using a Hollywood cover story to extract U.S citizens hiding within the Canadian embassy during the Iranian Revolution. The film plays out in three parts, the machinations of the CIA and US foreign politics, the Hollywood politics and finally the people on the ground in this hostile situation. There's always the danger, especially in light of our modern political climate to see film demonising the Iranians and portraying them with a universal blood lust for Westerners. Screen writer Chris Terrio and Affleck avoid that by contextualising the catalyst for their revolution and pay lip service to the U.S meddling in the region that caused the situation. Once it establishes the story it then focuses intently on the raw human element muted by the politics and the media inciting public anger. Argo balances the absurdity of the methods and the facade required for this situation with humanism and morality of the value of life. Affleck’s intimate approach to this international situation is what amplifies the suspense.
The inspired casting collects a great set of character actors (partially cast from Kevin Smith's Red State) that retreat into their characters. Thanks to the great work in costuming by Jaqueline West and makeup Kate Briscoe to make the hostages (played by Tate Donovan, Clea Duvall, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Scoot McNairy and Kerry Bishe) resemble their real life counterparts, they’re unrecognisable. Alan Arkin is a joy to watch as the business hardened studio arsehole, with a heart - and his catchphrase "Argo fuck yourself" is something that people are going to throw around for some time. John Goodman is a sweet gentle giant portraying Oscar Winning make-up man John Chambers. And finally Affleck’s performance as Tony Mendez serves as the conscience of the film. If it’s not his most powerful performance, it’s certainly his most deliberate.
Argo is tense, affective and not just Affleck’s best film but one of the best films of the year.
[rating=4] and a half
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Chris Terrio (screenplay)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishe, Michael Parks, Tate Donovan, Clea Duvall,
Argo is released in Australia on October 25th 2012.
BLAKE HOWARD IS A FILM CRITIC & THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/CO-FOUNDER OF AUSTRALIAN FILM BLOG GRAFFITI WITH PUNCTUATION . BLAKE IS THE HOST OF THE ONE HEAT MINUTE PODCAST. BLAKE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS ONLINE FILM CRITIC SOCIETY (AND A MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING COMMITTEE), IS A CO-HOST OF GAGGLE OF GEEKS ON SYDNEY'S 2SER COMMUNITY RADIO, A COLUMNIST AT THE AUSTRALIAN ONLINE INSTITUTION DARK HORIZONS AND SWAYS THE TOMATO METER WITH ROTTEN TOMATOES APPROVED REVIEWS.