Argo directed and starring Ben Affleck is the true story revolving around the 1979-1981 Iranian hostage crisis. The film centres around the Canadian/CIA mission to free six Americans seeking asylum in the Canadian ambassador’s house under the guise of making a fake movie of the same name.
Such stories simply write themselves, and the obvious hype about this film is evident from the incredible synopsis. What makes this story exceptional is the fact that this operation really did happen. And the film for the most part captures it in a mature and grounded light.
The film also stars John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and Victor Garber among others all shining in their respective roles. Of which perhaps Arkin’s Oscar nominated, hilarious, fast-talking seasoned Hollywood producer Lester Siegel deserves most praise.
If I’ve never said it before I’ll say it now. Affleck is a far better director than actor. His past serious and mature Gone Baby Gone (2007) and The Town (2010) attest to that. Argo follows in the same light. The movie is gripping and suspenseful, perfectly paced, all of the scenes transition well and all emotions are perfectly invoked.
Praise should also be given to the Oscar winning screenplay by Chris Terrio, who concocts a perfect smoothie of dark humour, exciting tension and mature realism. The film works, because it treats itself seriously, and is straightforward. It avoids the over-stylising reliance on action and gadgets that many spy flicks fall into. It also avoids overly pandering to a western audience/demonising, ‘the other’ unlike a lot of other political films do, especially those based on the Middle East.
And of course, credit must also be given to the exceptional William Goldenberg, of whose work in Heat (1995) I have praised earlier. The movie was shot on ordinary film, and then the frames were cut enough before being blown up 200% to increase graininess. This was to achieve an authentic 1970s look, which captured the tone of the period perfectly. I can’t emphasise enough how much the opening scene seems more like a documentary, than a movie. The suspension of disbelief and feelings of tension smack you from the start. And credit is due to the perfect cinematography. Truly the Oscar for film editing was deserved that year.
If you’ve not seen this before, have you been living under a rock for the past 5 years?! I highly recommend this film to just about anybody. The unlikely blend of dark humour and suspense coupled with a splendid feeling of light heartedness and triumph is unlike anything I can think of from recent memory. I honestly have no idea how this was achieved. The film solidified Affleck’s metamorphosis from Hollywood joke to one of the most respected actors/directors today.
In conclusion the film truly deserved the best picture Oscar for 2012.
But let’s not stop right there…
I think what makes this move oh so, so important is the lessons we can derive from it. Argo will forever be hailed not just in cinematic culture but in human culture as a symbol of the triumph of creativity, collaboration, courage and cooperation.
I am not an American nor a Canadian, but I would just like to applaud Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor’s courage. John Chambers and Tony Mendez for their collaboration and creativity. And anyone else who helped in this mission for their cooperation.
This film is dedicated as a symbol of what human beings can achieve by working together.
Not all heroes wear capes. And not all superhero movies, are about superheroes.
*trigger warning* the film has serious swearing, in a few scenes.