There aren't enough movies like "The Congress," which is also why it's disappointing that it's not a better movie.
There aren’t enough movies like “The Congress,” which is also why it’s disappointing that it’s not a better movie.
It’s a bold sci-fi movie that segues from live-action to animation — not enough animated movies aimed at grownups, if you ask me — and it has an intriguing premise. It’s stylish and dazzling, but eventually stumbles into incoherency.
Robin Wright plays herself. Well, she plays a version of herself, an aging actress who is seeing fewer offers. When she meets with the sleazy head of (fictional-ish) Miramount Studios (Danny Huston), he offers her “the last contract you’ll ever have.”
“Already?” Wright replies. “I’m not even 45.” Ah, Hollywood …
Miramount wants to buy the digital likeness of Wright. They’ll create fully digitized versions of her to star in movies — even the younger “Princess Bride” era Wright — and she must agree to never act again. Anywhere.
After wrestling with the creepy conundrum, Wright decides to move ahead with the plan. Then things get weird. And animated.
Director Ari Folman (of the Oscar-nominated “Waltz with Bashir”) sets an unsettling tone with the live-action first act before a seriously trippy segue into a dystopian future where Miramount allows people to alter their experiences. (I think “altered experiences” may be part of the target market for this movie, so keep that in mind.)
The hand-drawn animation style is a gorgeous throwback to the style of the animated sequences of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” with a dose of R. Crumb’s style. But things get heady quickly after the crossover, and all the dazzling eye candy makes the unfolding plot even harder to follow.
Wright is a fine choice in the lead as an actress who is still primarily known for her roles from two decades ago (“The Princess Bride” and “Forrest Gump”), although her resurgence on “House of Cards” undercuts the “has-been” actress angle a bit.
“The Congress” raises some interesting points about our obsession with youth and fame, and it’s a pretty picture. It’s also kind of a mess.
Opens Friday at the Gateway
2 1/2 stars out of 4