Five-star movie, one-star review

This is my first (and possibly only) ever movie review that I would like to share with you.

It started with a tweet – this tweet, following the release and subsequent promotion of Argo, which is directed by Ben Affleck:

At the time it was read out on air and retweeted by Kermode & Mayo (a.k.a. @wittertainment) so I felt I ought to follow up on my tweet. Sadly, cinemas are expensive, and generally not my favourite places to be. Last night I was delighted to see that Argo is already available on iTunes! I downloaded it, watched it, and afterwards was so in awe of what I had just watched that I just had to submit my review on iTunes:

If you can forgive [Ben] Affleck for not sticking to the exact story, I think you may love this movie. You see, while Affleck does drift off from the exact events that inspired this work, we all know its conclusion and to then make it into a movie that is so intense and so full of suspense, yet with enough focus on the characters – all of them – to keep them human… that’s no mean feat, yet Affleck nails it.

I disagree with other reviewers who call this a “re-writing of history”; when you watch Argo you may find, as I did, that there are various specific points in its screenplay where Affleck could have just veered off and really make this into a bloated, chauvinist re-writing of history (possibly riddled with plenty of action scenes, special effects, CGI and other pompous drivel)… yet at those very points you can see he has held back and kept it together; I feel that’s what makes this movie all the more intense. Argo is no flippant or shallow piece of ‘strong and clever American superheroes vs. nasty and dumb non-American evil-doers’ fiction, when Affleck could quite easily have made it into that, and other directors probably would have done so.

On paper, this movie probably wouldn’t have appealed to me, exactly for the aforementioned reasons raised against it by other reviewers (reasons that I disagree with now that I’ve seen the movie). It was Ben Affleck himself who made me want to watch it when I heard him being interviewed about it by Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo last year. He was so tremendously engaging and intelligent in that interview that I felt compelled to go watch this movie. Tonight I have watched it and I am immensely grateful that I did. It’s sublime.

I forgot to include a health warning with the above review, so I feel the need to correct that mistake here: I really only ever watch anything when I go to bed. Usually that helps me unwind and then I tend to nod off into a relaxing sleep (quite often even before the ending of whatever it is I am watching). On this occasion the suspense was so great that I found myself wide awake and mildly hyperventilating for at least half an hour afterwards. So please, be warned.

Further reading: ‘Argo’: The Movie vs. The True Story, Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History and The Houseguests: A Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery.

Further viewing (SPOILER ALERT): Argo: The Reel Story: How the movie Argo downplays Canada’s role in the rescue mission (CTV W5 2013).