“Hey Iran, fuck you” seems to be the only concern present in this film. The Best Picture winner has picked up an incredible amount of acclaim since its release in Autumn last year. Being somewhat indifferent to the films Ben Affleck has directed so far (i.e. The Town), I was almost certain that Argo was going to make me see that he can actually direct.
The premise of a fake movie being made in order to sneak into Iran to rescue some hostages is something that would make any filmmaker dribble with the prospect of how fun such a thing could be to make. The source material is absolute gold, offering the producers a self-referential film-within-a-film set in the context of important political issues and debates. Argo does come through in this respect. As a visual exercise, the aesthetics are down to a tee. The grainy look really helps enhance both the era the film is set as well as the self-referential movie aspect. Narratively, there are a lot of contrasting tones to accommodate in the script, be it the ever-present danger of the hostage crisis or the downright absurdity of the fake movie rescue mission. Argo has a difficult task of critiquing the movie industry as well as carrying strong political ideologies.
Unfortunately, this is where Argo falls short. In a similar fashion to The Town, after an hour or so it became really difficult to give much of a toss anymore. There seemed to be no real focus to the story other than AMERICA RULES FUCK THE MIDDLE EAST ACTING LIKE ANIMALS. Now, being slapped in the face by democracy and regime is fine if you’re an extra in Full Metal Jacket or lost in the pages of 1984. It is not, however, fine when this rather crass ideology imposing nonsense is cheaply disguised as a Hollywood blockbuster. Throughout the entire film, every shot of an Iranian is accompanied by tense music and said Iranian shooting a dodgy look in the angelic American’s direction. Now, believe it or not Academy Award panel/America, but it’s not actually like that in many middle eastern countries, crazy hey? Maybe this is being taken out of context, with Argo being a true story, but surely there would have been some friendly Iranian faces turning a blind eye to getting these hostages out. Then again, is it silly to assume that in Iran, people (yes, actual people) have their own beliefs and may not necessarily agree with the hostage situation?
There isn’t much more to say really. If you like being slapped in the face by political ideology for two hours, you’ll love this. If you like the kind of silent racism like the kind exhibited in Taken (don’t go to Europe, all Asian immigrants are bad and will fuck your family up), then you’ll also like the shifty eyed Iranians not getting one second of respite here. If you like Ben Affleck saying “trust me” a lot before a shot of him drinking alone in his hotel room, then you’ll probably like this. If you actually think about what you’re seeing when you watch this film, however, you probably won’t like this.
4/10 (The 4 is there because it’s quite a nice looking film and some of the moustaches on display are extraordinary.)
N.B: It’s not that I’m massively active politically, but I found Argo to be completely crass in the way it dealt with the politics at hand. It may be that I’ve misread the film entirely, but I just felt like I was being pounded into thinking that America prevails even when it’s dicking about with absurd rescue missions. There are light-hearted scenes in which Ben Affleck goes to California to assemble the fake movie and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. There’s a fucking hostage crisis! Why is Ben Affleck at a costume party and why can I hear Van fucking Halen?! Am I missing something here? Was the whole Best Picture thing a joke?