Ben Affleck haters out there, you are going to change your mind with this film. I had the biggest crush on him back then when he did Pearl Harbor, and then I saw how he let himself go (ahem, JLo, ahem) and started making terrible, TERRIBLE films. But it appears as if, during those years, he realized that he needed to take control of the movies he had to make, the movies he WANTED to make. And that’s when he started directing. Gone Baby Gone, the superb The Town, and now this pearl called Argo.
I’m not a fan of political films at all. In fact, I avoid them as much as I can, but I saw the trailer for this one a few months ago and it seemed genuinely interesting and attractive. So I thought, why not? Director-Actor Affleck has proven to be much better than just Actor-Affleck (I’m still trying to get Daredevil out of my head, and it’s been almost a decade…).
So let’s see it this way: Affleck has succeeded in making a political film that can be compelling to viewers like me, who can get lost in too much nonsense talk. And he is going the Clint Eastwood way (doing everything by himself), which seems to be working so, carry on like this, Ben.
Boy, does he know how to pick actors. Even choosing himself for the leading role is a good decision (although he wanted Brad Pitt to play that role). Is there anything better than being directed by yourself? Well, you know you are not going to disappoint your boss! And apparently he decided that he wanted to show the hours he has spent at the gym, because he inserts a completely gratuitous scene of him getting dressed…
And about the rest of the cast… Well, the group of actors playing the needed-to-be-rescued Americans don’t teach us an acting lesson, but I’m going to congratulate Affleck once again for choosing actors that look almost identical to their real-life counterparts (really impressive). Oh, and Bryan Cranston as Ben Affleck’s boss… who doesn’t just love Cranston? But I’m afraid that he is underused in this film. The few lines he gets are worth watching, though.
But there are two that stand out from the rest: Alan Arkin and John Goodman. I would dare to say they steal the scene every time they show up on the screen. They are presented like some sort of comic relief to the tension of the film (and there is a LOT of that), and they just deliver their lines so easily and with such an amazing chemistry between them, that I would have paid to watch a film about their part of the story.
Photography: The film has a 70s look from the beginning, which helps to get in the mood for the film. Apparently, Affleck also copied some shots from All The President’s Men to give the film a more realistic look of the time depicted.
Film score: I love film scores, and the good ones are those who achieve to manipulate your emotions, no matter what is actually happening on the screen. Kudos to Alexandre Desplat for the anxiety he made me go through for two hours (and since we are talking about him, for making me cry with the last two Harry Potters and The Painted Veil).
It took me an hour to realize that the “leader” of the American refugees was Tate Donovan! Wow, I hadn’t seen him since he was Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend in Friends…
Thumbs up to Affleck’s 70s look. I just had to mention it.
So…you haven’t seen it yet? What are you waiting for?