Robin Wright plays an aging actress whose reputation for being unreliable has left her with little options. She reluctantly agrees to sell the rights of her digital image to Miramount Studios, giving away her very presence and the ability to ever act again. Flash forward twenty years, where Robin attends the Futurlogical Congress, which showcases Miramount's new technology, the ability for an individual to transform themselves into their favorite people or characters. Robin, haunted by her past decision, protests this product publicly to the masses which enrages Miramount. Ari Folman's The Congress is a half-animated, half live-action experience that is as ambitious as pretty much any other film I've ever seen. Spanning many years, the film transitions from time-period to time-period, from animation to live-action telling us a story about mankind's growing loss of identity thanks in large part to the deceptions of technology. The film is far from seemless, transitioning from segment to segment in a way that is downright confusing and hard to follow at times. In fact, much of the same could be said for the whole narrative. The film certainly has something to say about the relationship between technology and individuality, making an argument that they don't exactly correlate. We are shown a world where technology gives the individual an absolute way to escape their reality, completely shedding their identity for the sake of fitting into the norm. The Congress wants to express the importance of personal freedom and choice but it never fully reaches its grandiose intentions, though the ideas and ambition in the film deserve recognition. The animation in The Congress is certainly the high point of the film, delivering powerful, unique, and sweeping imagery. This is the type of film that will become a cult classic for the animation alone, with its psychedelic design sure to be watched with the assistance of drugs by many. Ari Folman's The Congress is a hard film to ignore given its ambition and beautiful animation but unfortunately it never quite achieves everything it sets out to say.
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