Movie Reviews Movie Review- March 20th

V for Vendetta


I am sure the producers of the Matrix trilogy meant well when they chose to adapt Alan Moore's graphic novel V for Vendetta into a futuristic political thriller. Unfortunately, the film does not live up to its aesthetic potential, and its ideology is simplistic and ultimately offensive to a Catholic conscience.


V for Vendetta takes place in England in the not-too-distant future when Britain has resorted to a dictatorship to maintain order.  The power-hungry supreme chancellor callously manipulates military, media, and faith to force citizens into submission, creating what might properly and paradoxically be termed a communist theocracy.  Religion is so thoroughly abused in the chancellor's hands that the motto of the state, visible on posters throughout London, ironically reads, “Strength through unity; Unity through faith.”


Against this political setting, a mysterious hero emerges, known only as V.  Natalie Portman's character, Evey, encounters him plotting to bomb Parliament in order to restore justice to England.  When she becomes a prisoner in his house, the two unconvincingly fall for one another, even though she cannot see his face and he cannot remember his own identity.


Initially, this film fascinated me with its elaborate plot and creative setting.  I even admired its political relevance, until it became clear that V for Vendetta is a deliberate attack on the Church's defense of morality.  Not only is Christianity aligned with a brutal dictatorship, this theocracy is responsible for systematically murdering homosexuals throughout England.  The film's only Catholic figure is a bishop openly indulging his pedophilia, unfortunately a character type which is becoming a familiar cliché in contemporary cinema.  As Catholic teaching on sexual morality is misrepresented as violence in yet another film, we are reminded of the constant need to avoid this stereotype by exercising kindness and charity when proclaiming the truth.


I could continue to list the dozens of reason why I do not recommend that anyone invest money or time into V for Vendetta, but I will instead allow the film to speak for itself.  Near the ending, Evey shares a tender kiss with V, who is wearing, as always, a profoundly disturbing and necessarily unresponsive Guy Fawkes mask.  This image represents in two words my impression of the entire film: wasted effort. 


Pride & Prejudice (2005)


This most recent film adaptation of a Jane Austen classic took me by surprise in nearly every way.  Directed by newcomer Joe Wright, Pride & Prejudice is astounding for its technical perfection, its unique style, its intelligent humor, and its believable romance.


The story relates the Bennet family's attempts to marry off their five daughters, centering on Elizabeth, played by Kiera Knightley.  She is an honest, intelligent, and courageous woman who desires and expects real happiness, defying the frivolity of the world around her.  Her love-hate relationship with the enigmatic Mr. Darcy motivates the narrative.  This is authentic romance: attraction, perplexity, tenderness, forgiveness, virtue.

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While not an Austen expert, I consider myself quite a fan, and this adaptation captures both her genuine love of romance and her wry critique of society's ridiculous pretenses.  Wright communicates volumes in the details of his images, as Austen does in her prose.  In this environment, a simple curtsy can speak louder than many words, conveying cold civility, romantic tension, or thinly veiled disdain, all in the subtlety of the gesture. 


Pride & Prejudice

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