Sunday, February 23, 2014

V for Vendetta (2005)

IMDb plot summary: In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.
Directed by James McTeigue. Starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea and Stephen Fry.

Oh, I do have such a fondness for dystopian future movies. They are just so interesting. As such, I have an innate love for this movie's premise, even if I think it plays out a little awkwardly. For one thing, it toes a weird line between serious and silly that doesn't always work for me. (Two "What?!" silly examples: The fact that V must have apparently spent HUNDREDS OF HOURS just setting up dominoes in the shape of his symbol, despite the fact that then no one even SAW IT in the symbol shape since that had to be seen from above and nobody was looking at it from above, including him... and his introductory full-of-Vs monologue, which just made me roll my eyes and patiently wait for him to finish and stop showing off his cleverness.)

(Warning: Spoilers in the rest of the review about a major plot twist.)

My other issue with the movie is that, while obviously it's not a straightforward all-the-good-guys-are-perfect-and-all-the-bad-guys-are-evil story, I really hated V by the end. REALLY hated him. I don't care what back story he has and what principles he holds, once he kidnaps a young girl and tortures her physically and psychologically for what he claims to be her own good, until she is psychologically broken and gives herself over to his cause... I can't possibly root for that person after that. Evey's commitment to V's anarchistic cause felt so clearly like a tragic Stockholm Syndrome-style response from a mentally and emotionally *destroyed* woman that all I could feel was horrified empathy for her and a bitter disgust for her captor. I lost my protagonist after the jail scenes, and I never got her back.

That being said, that sounds like I disliked the movie more than I did. It looks great, it's an interesting premise, and watching the cops unravel the mystery of who V is ends up being a lot of fun. It's an extremely enjoyable watch. I think my loud protesting is more in reaction against all the people who latch onto it as a deep meaningful message movie, because do you guys REALLY want to take on the principles of someone who thinks it's okay to torture the person they're implied to love later? (Yeah, I really couldn't get over that torturing Evey bit.) 3.5 stars.

Flickchart: #731 out of 2033, below The Ring and above the Exorcist. This might be a bit low, because The Ring is a bit low.

Rent on Amazon for $1.99.


Sam said...

My interpretation here is going to be quite heavily influenced by the graphic novel, which I read before I saw the movie, and the movie simplifies things a little.

With that said... I see V as quite explicitly a monster. He's created by the inhumanities of the state and rises up to destroy them at any cost. He does whatever he believes is necessary to bring down the greater evil of the state; he's not a hero or a good person.

Hannah M said...

That definitely makes more sense. The movie has what seems to be a very triumphant "good guys win!" ending, but I could definitely see the graphic novel being willing to be more overt about V's monstrousness. If I didn't feel like the movie was pushing me to change my feelings on V at the end and view him as the good guy (or at LEAST Evey as the "good guy," though I couldn't do that either by that point), I'd have less of an issue with this.