Review by Lucía Santiago Dantés.
Director: Ben Affleck
Thriller, Drama, History.
One of the top 10 movies to watch of 2012. Losely based on the Canadian Caper hostage situation turned into a book written by the real CIA agent Tony Mendez who recounts the rescue of a group of americans left stranded at the American Embassy in Iran after it was overrun by iranian protesters. Mendez propose the idea of taking smuggling them out of the country through a canadian fake film crew brewed in Hollywood. Sounds crazy?… well it’s Hollywood… anything can happen! and if wasn’t because the story was actually true this film would have been a terrible terrible movie because nobody would have believed it!… sometimes life is stranger than fiction and this film is the proof of that statement.
Audiences may ask who is the Shah and what’s been the relationship of the US through the years with this particular country? well that’s why I loved the first minutes of Argo, as it takes the time to show you the geopolitical history and background of Iran before the incident and why it happened, after all we are talking a geopolitical incident that happened over 30 years ago.
That leads to the “present” in the film. The year is 1979 and the people of Iran is not happy about the decision of the American government sheltering the deposed Shah. Hence americans are not welcomed in Iran anymore and as things escalate in Tehran, we can see how reactions are heating up until finally the American Embassy is overrun by the protestors. A small group of the remaining personnel manage to leave the facilities without being noticed and hide at the nearby Canadian Embassy. Tony Mendez (Affleck) back in the U.S. propose the idea to rescue the group through a very elaborated plan of making a fake film crew who happens to scout locations for a Sci-Fi movie. The plan is Mendez arriving alone to Iran and flying back with the entire group. The question is posed: how will he do it without being discovered? Now remember it’s the late 70s, Star Wars was already a hit phenomenon, not to mention other great movies like A clockwork Orange, Solaris, Logan’s Run, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and TV series like The Planet of The Apes and Star Trek. Do I need to say more?
That lead us to the most eccentric and surrealist part of the story and needless to say, the more cynical. Tony ask the help of John Chambers (John Goodman) Make up artist who wasn’t already built up a name for his career but also helped in the past to build disguises for the CIA. He also gets the help of veteran producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) who helps building up the fake production company in Hollywood.
Although this is not his directorial debut, this is the first film that might give him the nod for the Oscars and the Golden Globe Awards.
The screenplay was written by Chris Terrio, based on the books “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio (Tony) J. Mendez and “The Great Scape” by Joshuah Bearman. Argo was directed by Ben Affleck and produced by fellow actor George Clooney.
The film has a bit of everything, tense situations, satyrical jokes of the film industry and the whole charade it’s so implausible that fits right in the Film Industry business. The name of the script Argo also has a meaning: knock, knock… who’s there? Argo. Argo who? Ar.. go fuck yourself!
Although the film has a great cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto, my respects goes to Production Designer Sharon Seymour, Peter Borck, Deniz Göktürk, set decorator Jan Pascale and Costume designer Jacqueline West. Not to mention the great performances by John Goodman and Alan Arkin. As for Ben Affleck I would say Affleck is becoming a great Hollywood director who already knows that the secret for a great film lies within a equally great story.
Also in this movie:Victor Garber as Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor, Tate Donovan, Bryan Cranston and I must admit while watching the movie, I could have sworn one of the six americans hidden in the Canadian Embassy was Seth Gabel (Fringe, Dirty Sexy Money) but actually it was Christopher Denham!
For those like me who are wondering how true is Argo? Here’s a link about how accurate is the film compared to the actual events.