26 Dec 2013

Movie Review: Argo : Tense Thriller


Iran, 1979 - a time of repression and hostility, certainly not a time to be featured on tourism brochures. CIA agent Tony Mendez finds himself in Iran in order to save six US Embassy employees under the guise of producer, for a sci-fi film Argo, a film that exists only on paper. Time is running out and Mendez must act fast to gain confidence of the six people, already shattered by their self-imposed 70-day seclusion at the Canadian ambassador's house. 

The denizens of Iran come off a little less hostile than the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.The depiction of the country is harrowing and suits well in to US paranoia. How much of it is true is but a matter of cinematic liberty and political flavour. Just like his tight 2010 heist movie The Town, Ben Affleck directs with detachment and control, even as he plays one of the main protagonists. 

Why Argo won the Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars and why did Michelle Obama have to announce it from The White House makes a prominent appendix to the movie's DVD afterlife. In a way, Argo was a potential mob instigator for walloping support against the present Iranian government. Fanning crowd frenzy is ironically, a phenomenon featured prominently in the movie.  

Finally, Argo is a well made Hollywood thriller based on true events and in a treatment that exaggerates the tense situation adroitly. Worth watching, not a classic but quite good.

If you want an insider's view in to the Iran of 1979 and beyond, the wonderful graphic novel memoir Persepolis and to a trimmed extent - its movie adaptation, would help.  

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