Now, I have sometimes been known to go and see a film more because I fancy a pick and mix, than fancy seeing it. But sometimes, a film comes along that I NEED to see, before it goes out of the cinemas. Argo was one of those films!
I saw the trailer a few times on previous cinema trips and thought ooh, I fancy seeing that, but never quite got round to it. Then it won about a hundred awards and I thought right… action is needed!
With BAFTAs, Golden Globes AND the biggie, Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, it came pretty well recommended – and it definitely didn’t disappoint. This film is so. Freaking. Good!
A quick precis – and I will warn you, I’m going to have to include some spoilers. The girls I saw it with had had it ruined for them by their housemate 5 minutes before they left the house… Nobody wants to be that guy, so consider yourself warned! It’s set in the 1970’s (so the hair alone is awesome), and centres on the mission to smuggle 6 American embassy employees out of Iran. Their cover? They’re a Canadian film crew on a location scout for a movie called Argo.
Thinking about it, I’m surprised at how much I did enjoy it, and how involved I got in it. I’ll give most things a go (except *cough* Jurassic Park) but I do kind of expect to zone out a bit in action-type “boy films”. There’s only so many things you can see blow up and be impressed by. And I think that’s what I was expecting with Argo. But not the case – there aren’t any explosions, no car chases, no boring political / military shpiels round boardroom tables that I don’t quite manage to follow… and I could not stop watching.
The pace is absolutely perfect – it neither rushes nor stalls you, leaving you both desperate and terrified to know what happens. You feel exactly how the hostages themselves must have – your life dictated by things completely out of your control. You haven’t got any freedom until the events play themselves out. And again like the hostages, even as the plane takes off… you don’t fully believe they’re away. Even as the credits rolled, I didn’t fully believe it! It’s almost like post traumatic stress disorder. It breaks over you in stages – I’m kind of only just believing it now.
It ramps up the tension without cliched music and stretched out pauses, punctuated by some real moments of humour (John Goodman in particular) – short little bursts that release some of that tension, blow off some steam. One section I particularly loved was when they’re in the van being slowly driven through a protesting crowd, banging on the vehicle and shouting. It’s slow, suffocating, like a tinder box waiting for a spark – the antithesis of a car chase, and painfully brilliant.
I also loved that it’s essentially all about acting. The actors are acting as people acting that they’re not acting… Brilliant. The Shakespeare student in me will always love the whole play-within-a-play, and I loved the chime of recognition here.
It’s touching, human and the effects are long-lasting. Even the potentially-cheesey absent father / cute son storyline works here. Everyone just wants to get home.
I was only marginally distracted by one of the hostages being Jimmy Cooper from the OC (who else loved that show!?) and loved Ben Affleck as a bit of a Seventies Jesus. Absolutely brilliant.