' Cinema Romantico: V Is For A Guy In A Fawkes Mask

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

V Is For A Guy In A Fawkes Mask

"V For Vendetta" tells the tale of a Totalitarian society with many shades of Orwellianism thrown in for kicks. Enter "V" himself - or the person I prefer to call The Guy in the Fawkes Mask. Guy Fawkes was the guy who attempted to blow up the House of Parliament way back in 1605 and now The Guy in the Fawkes Mask is determined to do the same thing.

The film was written by the infamous Wachowski Brothers who were also responsible for writing and directing "The Matrix" movies. But the same flaw that undid those three scripts is still present here - namely, subtlety. Oh, how the Wachowski's love exposition. They pine for long-winded soliliquies that explain every plot development and character motivation. Normally I depise those contrite lessons in screenwriting class but I think the Wachowski's need to attend one soon. Show, boys! Don't tell! But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps you can't have interesting dialogue not purely for expository purposes when your primary character is hidden behind a mask the whole time. And therein lies another flaw of the film.

I know the mask is supposed to work as a symbol. But that's all the character felt like to me - a symbol. Call me crazy but I felt nothing for The Guy in the Fawkes Mask. When he meets his final fate I should have been riveted but instead I just kind of shrugged.

But while The Guy in the Fawkes Mask is busy clarifying everything for us, Natalie Portman is hard at work turning her character of Eavy Hammond into someone much more real and moving. This performance is more proof that Portman is a wonderful actress so long as she's not pinned down in front of a blue screen with a hack director. Eavy has to transform from a naive newsworker to a hardened rebel and convinces us she has done so (or convinced me, at least). The vignette midway through in which she's tortured and simultaneously moved by a past victim was the highlight of the film in my eyes. And while we're at it, Stephen Rea brings an appropriate level of world-weariness to his otherwise conventional role of the Police Inspector hot on the trail of The Guy in the Fawkes Mask.

Again, I have not read the graphic novel so I don't the know way it goes in print but it seems the film is stuck in the middle ground when it needed to lean one way or the other more predominantly. If it wanted to be a more real and vicious comment on contemporary society/government I think it needed to spend even more time with Eavy's character and, for God's sake, not have The Guy in the Fawkes Mask babble so much. But if wanted to be more of a fantasy then it should have lessened the dark quotient a bit and, for God's sake, not have The Guy in the Fawkes Mask babble so much. It's that recurring problem with studio movies - they must appeal to every common denominator to ensure as much box office as possible even if the film suffers.

Whatever the case may be, "V For Vendetta" works as a sort of parallel to our current American government. Not an exact parallel, mind you, but I can imagine George W. watching this movie and thinking, "Yeah, that's what I'm going for". You may chuckle but I envision a time in the near future where "Saturday Night Live" does one too many sketches and the real Dick Cheney shows up at Darrell Hammond's house to conk him on the head and drag him away. Don't think it can't happen.

2 comments:

Wretched Genius said...

I can remember a time, many years ago, when I saw a wonderfully written/acted/directed movie called "Bound." When I found out that the gentleman who created that film were going to be doing a sci-fi epic, I thought "Oh boy, this will be awesome."

I long for those days of hope.

Rory Larry said...

Although I enjoyed Natalie Portman's roles in "Closer" and "Garden State", here again she was hacking it up with the best of them. She was a stoney and boring as every one else in the film.