The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

I didn’t know a movie could be so thrilling when you already know how it ends

with 12 comments

Some people are extremely sensitive to spoilers and will walk out of their way to know as little as possible about a film before they watch it. I’m not one of those.

With exception for the kind of movies that you’re warned off by others that you should avoid spoiling (such as with the recent The Cabin the Woods), it’s OK for me to have a vague picture of how the movie goes. I can still marvel at the ride.

Yet I was taken aback at how thrilling Argo turned out to be, considering it was a story where the outcome was clear before the start. When my 18 year old complained afterwards about how her stomach hurt after all the tension during the two hours, I knew exactly where she came from. This was by far the most white-knuckle movie experience I’ve had this year, which I think is a sign that the people who put it together clearly know their craft.

So, in the unlikely event that you’ve missed the buzz, Argo is a based-on-a-true story movie about a joint CIA-Canada operation to get six Americans out if Iran in 1980, when the US Embassy was invaded by revolutionaries and the staff taken hostage. As always you need to stress that “based on” doesn’t equal with a documentary. Some details in the story have been changed to work better on the film screen, and especially the final 30 minutes have a distinct taste of classical Hollywood drama.

A big fan
The views about it go apart. I’ve seen it getting some praise, and it has been mentioned as a thinkable Oscar candidate, but I’ve also seen it getting quite a beating for tempering with the truth, for taking sides against the Iranian revolutionaries and for being overly dramatic.

In my case, there’s no doubt about my verdict: I’m a big fan.

I think Ben Affleck has done a very good effort to give a balanced picture of the events, even providing a little history lesson in the beginning of the film, to make sure that everyone is on the same page, throwing light on what caused people in Iran to revolt and why they were so hostile towards US. In the hands of a director with less interest in politics, this could easily have turned into annoying, bombastic American propaganda, but Affleck makes sure to never cross the line into that territory.

It also needs to be mentioned that as thrilling as the film is, it also manages to throw in a measure of humor, which never feels strained or out of place, just providing a few breathing spots here and there, just when you needed. There’s also a little bit of family drama with the side story about the CIA hero who thinks about his son, a bit similar to what they did in The Hurt Locker.

The different genres – the thriller, the shaky handy camera/documentary style film, the comedy and the family drama melt together into a very taste dish that I enjoyed immensely. It’s got all those elements that I love about well crafted Hollywood productions: a good story, well executed, with equal amounts of heart and thrills, which in the end also inspires you try to become a better person: to appreciate the life you’ve been given and to dare to do things that need to be done even when they seem scary.

I couldn’t really ask for more.

Argo (Ben Affleck, US 2012) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

November 27, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Argo

12 Responses

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  1. Sounds promising. I felt the same about Apollo 13, you know how it will end but it was a damn thrilling ride nonetheless.

    Sofia

    November 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

    • I think Apollo 13 is an apt association. I guess we’ll disagre a bit within the Filmspanarna network. Joel was more lukewarm towards it if I got him right and Henke liked it but probably not as much as I did.

      Jessica

      November 27, 2012 at 7:47 am

  2. I’m usually really whiny about historical dramas that twist the truth, but this one didn’t bother me at all. Or… there was only one segment that bugged me- 10 minutes or so towards the end, where one really implausible thing after another happened to the group. It was very obvious that little or none of that had happened in real life.

    Having said that, I really didn’t care that much about those 10 minutes because I thought everything else about it was so great. I think it’s the best movie so far this year. Filming the opening sequence like a handheld camera-style documentary was genius, and the whole thing felt just like being transported back to 1979 to watch it all unfold.

    John

    November 27, 2012 at 7:50 am

    • Yes, I guess it’s the implausible thing that keeps me from giving it a 5/5. Or I’m just being cheap.
      It was definitely like being transported back to 1979. I have only vague memories of that time, being 12 years old. But I think they did the costumes and art direction perfectly. The glasses, the furniture… spot on for that time!

      Jessica

      November 27, 2012 at 7:55 am

  3. Great review and spot-on. Loved the touches of humor and I thought Affleck created and maintained tension so well, He’s a fantastic director.

    fernandorafael

    November 27, 2012 at 8:55 am

    • Thanks Fernando! I haven’t seen anything else by him, but now I really want to go back and check out his previous films.

      Jessica

      November 27, 2012 at 11:38 pm

  4. I’m probably the only movie enthusiast that hasn’t seen this film yet Jessica but I know your taste is always good. For that reason – above all the rest – I must endeavour to see this as soon as possible. 😉

    Mark Walker

    November 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    • Well, I think we sometimes disagree, but I would be surprised if you disliked this one. You should definitely try to catch it.

      Jessica

      November 27, 2012 at 11:39 pm

  5. […] 7. Argo From my review: “ I was taken aback at how thrilling Argo turned out to be, considering it was a story where the outcome was clear before the start. When my 18 year old complained afterwards about how her stomach hurt after all the tension during the two hours, I knew exactly where she came from. This was by far the most white-knuckle movie experience I’ve had this year, which I think is a sign that the people who put it together clearly know their craft.” […]

  6. […] I didn’t know a movie could be so thrilling when you already know how it ends […]

  7. […] I didn’t know a movie could be so thrilling when you already know how it ends […]


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