Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remember, Remember

~Do you know what day it is Evey?~

~It’s Novermber the 4th~

~Not anymore.~

From a bungle in the history books came a brilliant and beautiful madman, V, from the mind of Alan Moore, who also created From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. His word was the first I heard that told me that the V for Vendetta adaptation would not live up to the comic. He loathed the film and begged the movie makers to keep his name out of credits. Can you blame him after his rotten luck with other adaptations?

Despite that, I think the movie got a bad rap. Hugo Weaving was enchanting as always. Even without a glimpse at his face, without a raised eyebrow, a scowl, a smile, a nervous tick of the lips, he gave us anger, shyness, gentility, nobility, love, regret, sadness, and loss. His voice can melt me faster than anything.

For me, the story was solid. The mysterious V, having spent his adult life planning revenge, is nearing his goals. On his way to what will be a calling card for his visit on the next November 5th, he runs into Evey Hammond, a shy girl in trouble with the authorities for breaking curfew. In her, he sees a possible aid at a time when he was going to need someone to trust, possibly the first time in his life. With visions of a world avenged, V recruits a very unwilling Evey into his slightly villainous endeavor.

Cultivating her friendship through the age old methods of water torture, disfigurement, starvation, and scalding water, V slowly lets Evey into his world as he finalizes his plans to create a better life for the nation, and possibly the entire war-torn world.

Dashing in the very definition of the word, a master swordsman, a wordsmith extraordinaire, and with a few random screws loose, V carries on with Evey in activities including mass mailings, kidnapping, and murder.

Light on the romance, which suits me perfectly, the movie had a nice mix of action, plot, and politics. There were some stunning scenes, straight from the Matrix. Big coincidence? The Wachowski Brothers and James McTeigue (writers and director) all worked on the Matrix movies. I’m a huge fan of those so maybe that’s why I am an apologist for what they did to V. I loved the bring-a-knife-to-a-gun-fight scene near the end, where V moves through a circle of armed gunmen slicing them stem to stern with knives. Light tracers flow along behind the knives as if they emitted their own glow. And the red and black domino scene was beautiful as well.

I am not, however, an apologist for what Natalie Portman did to V. Natalie’s accent was atrociously annoying. As pretty as she is, she cannot act and was a stale note in an otherwise fun movie. Her performance brought the entire thing down. Just listening to her say more than 2 sentences gave me a pulsing migraine. She was so bland that V’s jukebox had more personality. The only time I ever saw a passable performance from her when in the character she portrayed in Goya’s Ghosts who hardly spoke a word due to her misshapen mouth.

Other than her lack of acting skills, kudos to her for being so smart! She is fluent in Hebrew, German, Japanese, and French and studied at Harvard. Too bad she didn’t take some acting classes.

Society’s great heroes are those who are slightly maddened by what they see around them, and that has always been V’s appeal to me. His drama, his madness, his unconditional quest for a world that has never, and will never exist. I think that no one could have done a better job than Hugo did. He was perfect.

Stephen Rea was good, but he’s gotten very typecast in the past ten years or so. He seemed a bit bored. Also, for some reason, having him play the role of the Inspector, I knew that V’s plan would not get thwarted by him. He always plays the one who lets the good guy go, even when the good guy is also the bad guy.

Stephen Fry played the lovable and courageous Deitrich. For a bit of dorkish trivia, he was the narrator voice on the Harry Potter video games. He is also currently writing Peter Jackson’s remake of The Dam Busters.

Interestingly, the movie’s release date was postponed due to similarities between the scenes in it and the London bombing attacks in 2005. The film makers refused to edit the underground scenes that were too vivid in the minds of Londoners at the time. It ended up not even being an issue due to the few people who even bothered to go see it. After being predicted as being that year’s first opening night blockbuster, the movie made just around 26 million that weekend.

If you haven’t seen it, give it a try, ignore Natalie, and just listen to the hypnotic words from Hugo’s lips. If you’ve seen it and hated it, try to give it another look. The character is too vivid not to at least draw some fondness.

~Ideas are bulletproof~


  1. Great review. I haven't seen this one since I saw it in theatres and probably need to revisit it. I think Portman is a fantastic actress, though, with stellar performances in Garden State, My Blueberry Nights, and especially Closer. I'm looking forward to watching V with your criticism in mind.

  2. Nicely put and I couldn't agree more. Weaving is incredibly charming behind that mask and puts in an incredible performance with his body and face.

    I'm really mixed on Portman. I think she's one of those actors that simply requires good direction. This has come up a little on Twitter and on the Chinstroker vs. Punter podcast as people have been discussing Phantom Menace. I think that's a good example of how some actors can pull through on their own--such as Liam Neeson and Ian McDiamond--while others left to their own talents just fail miserably. I don't think she's as awful in V, but her performance does leave much to be desired.

  3. The $26 million figure was just from the opening weekend. It made $70.5 million in the U.S., $132.5 million worldwide.

  4. right, thanks for pointing that out, in my head the whole paragraph was about opening weekend, but added those last couple words for clarification. happens when i only have half an hour allotted for stuff like this LOL