The Congress @ The Ross

Robin Wright animated  in her psychedelic world.

Robin Wright animated in her psychedelic world.

My father always would offer these stern words of caution when I went to a social gathering. He would say, “you may go, but know when to leave the party.” My father’s caution is exactly what I would have offered to film director Ari Folman if I had the opportunity. Folman takes the audience on a psychedelic mind trip in his film The Congress, starring Robin Wright and Harvey Keitel.

I got it — this excursion into the world of primary colors and dreamscapes—this alternative universe into which Robin Wright travels to escape the reality of aging. But Folman stays so long in that sphere that it no longer matters what happens to anybody; it wears on the mind. I also got the messages that Folman doles out with a heavy hand. There is a critique of celebrity culture and how the operators of it salivate over young flesh with a hatred of its natural ability to age; how fans become so hungry for its stars that they will virtually eat and/or drink them alive; and, how film studios and their mogul administrators tire of handling the volatile personalities of actors.

Robin Wright in the Digital Laboratory "recording" all of her mannerisms

Robin Wright in the Digital Laboratory “recording” all of her mannerisms

Miramount, the fictional film studio has just the solution to assuage its woes: digitize the still youthful looking Robin Wright, upload all of her mannerisms and feelings into a database, and cast that digitized image in films for all eternity. There is a devil in the catch, and it is evil: Robin Wright must never act again – not in theater nor onscreen. Robin Wright signs the contract, and Folman rightly imagines then answers the question: what happens when an artist never can practice her art nor lend her talents to the world again. She turns to chemicals and trips out on a fantasy filled with a la-la land of personalities, to include Jesus, Michael Jackson, Queen Elizabeth, Elvis Pressley, and a Tom Cruise look-a-like.

The plot becomes convoluted with twists and turns that end up somewhere that is nowhere. Folman tarries so long in the animated realm that I found myself conjuring up a shuttle to take me out of there! My father taught me well, though. I pulled my emotions from the story and waited for its end. I knew when to leave that party!

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The Congress plays through October 2d at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Listen to The Congress @ 1:00:05 recorded for Friday Live at The Mill!

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In the meantime, Catch a film … Share the Popcorn … Feed Your Soul!

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