(out of 5)
Stepping out into the London night of a futuristic, Orwellian dystopia, Natalie Portman finds herself being harassed by crooked cops for violating a curfew ordinance and is saved from their treachery by a mysterious hero in a Guy Fawkes mask and cape. When England’s ultra-conservative government, the world’s new force after the US melted down in an apocalyptic frenzy, finds itself besieged by this strange hero’s attempts to dismantle the choke-hold on national culture and freedom, its Hitleresque leader (John Hurt, who played the victim of similar circumstances in 1984) declares open war on this “terrorist” while Portman finds herself inextricably drawn to him. This excellent example of studio filmmaking ropes you in with its rich characters and superb dialogue and holds on to you by providing a fascinating story line. It is obvious in its allegorical meaning but not painfully so, and the superb finish is, for once, not begging for a sequel. Portman is superb, while Hugo Weaving does a wonderful job of voicing the lead character who is as much a romantic and a poet as he is a savvy fighter and adventurer. The plot covers everything, from the importance of art in culture to the need for more individuality in a world that is desperate to conform in order to feel safe, and blends all its elements, both intellectual and physical, perfectly with its seamless screenplay (by The Matrix‘s Wachowski brothers) and intelligent direction. Some have complained that the film is too dialogue-heavy and doesn’t feature enough action, but the people who say that are really, really stupid.
Directed by James McTeigue
Cinematography by Adrian Biddle
Music by Dario Marianelli
Production Design by Owen Paterson
Costume Design by Sammy Sheldon
Film Editing by Martin Walsh