SXSW: "V for Vendetta" Review

by | March 16, 2006 | Comments

"V for Vendetta," which had an advanced screening at South by Southwest Wednesday, is thrilling as cinema but questionable as politics. Well-crafted and often stirring, it’s an overtly political action film that makes a few trenchant points, but it’s tough to come away from the film with a coherent message. But it’s worth seeing nonetheless.

It’s the year 2020, and Britain has become a fascist state. The government has rounded up the undesirables, used the media as a fear-mongering tool, and enforced a strict curfew on its cynical but weary populous. In the bowels of the city, V (Hugo Weaving), a man once imprisoned and tortured for his dissent, is plotting a violent overthrow of the government, as well as revenge against his individual tormenters. He stumbles upon Evey (Natalie Portman), who is first skeptical but eventually becomes his partner in revolution. The action scenes are well-staged, and the movie has a few dark laughs (including a subversive play on Benny Hill). The supporting players, which include John Hurt, Stephen Rea and Stephen Fry, are excellent.

V is a man with a lot on his mind, and while he commits some pretty gruesome acts of revenge, he’s a romantic at heart; he likes Shakespeare, "The Count of Monte Cristo," and Cat Power, and has Jan Van Eyck’s "Arnolfini Wedding Portait" on the wall, all of which are banned under the regime (though it’s never adequately explained how he acquired his martial arts skills and amassed such staggering wealth). The sequence in which Evey makes the transformation from skeptic to fearless freedom fighter (drawing heavily from Dreyer‘s "The Passion of Joan of Arc") is one of the more moving in the film, and never more so than when she reads a letter in her jail cell written by one of the regime’s innocent victims.

But in the wake of 9/11 and the London terrorist attacks, it’s not unreasonable to feel more than a little queasy rooting for this guerilla campaign. The film is on firmer ground in other respects, as when it makes the claim that governments should be beholden to their people (no argument there) or that civic engagement is a necessity, especially in particularly troubled times (ditto). In all, "V for Vendetta" is a provocative film, not least because it’s sometimes unclear what reactions it should be provoking.

Tag Cloud

discovery Stephen King Winners Disney+ Disney Plus talk show DC Universe CBS All Access boxing foreign Columbia Pictures facebook ITV blaxploitation movie NYCC Music witnail werewolf king arthur TLC stoner Exclusive Video indiana jones Pet Sematary Mary poppins japan Amazon Prime Video adventure Turner rt archives Holiday BET Awards Lifetime game of thrones legend comedies FXX TBS OWN die hard Sneak Peek dc PBS 99% 90s cats true crime nature Avengers Election Brie Larson NBC prank Trivia The Purge cops venice Valentine's Day Crunchyroll versus Shudder ratings indie a nightmare on elm street comiccon GLAAD zero dark thirty Amazon Studios Quiz Family 007 archives anime stop motion WGN satire hollywood dark child's play toy story dogs adenture aliens AMC universal monsters Rom-Com worst psychological thriller See It Skip It Amazon 1990s comic Writers Guild of America Apple TV Plus Country Creative Arts Emmys Legendary game show cars The Witch crime thriller kong Super Bowl comics technology RT History travel Broadway Emmys Alien golden globe awards series japanese TIFF Nat Geo New York Comic Con BBC One El Rey cults Wes Anderson Box Office VOD The Walking Dead Amazon Prime Captain marvel YouTube Premium james bond marvel comics Toys disaster Academy Awards scary movies french strong female leads CW Seed zombie Netflix Christmas movies italian historical drama movies Britbox thriller Television Critics Association ESPN revenge rotten MSNBC Year in Review Certified Fresh romantic comedy Showtime romance DC streaming service Ellie Kemper Acorn TV wonder woman YouTube Red HBO Funimation E3 Polls and Games 24 frames Dark Horse Comics 20th Century Fox television casting Universal President 2021 IFC First Look Vudu Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Cartoon Network war Hallmark Christmas movies teaser crossover ABC Signature BBC America Netflix San Diego Comic-Con superhero unscripted 72 Emmy Awards political drama dceu FX critic resources hist blockbusters Rocky DGA Musical Baby Yoda independent PlayStation SDCC DC Comics Mudbound LGBT golden globes TV Food Network Winter TV Reality Emmy Nominations ghosts Trailer richard e. Grant Heroines Apple Hallmark First Reviews A&E spanish Horror medical drama razzies rt labs critics edition Masterpiece HBO Max TV movies emmy awards Animation halloween tv APB biopic Oscars Martial Arts Turner Classic Movies Drama GIFs Holidays batman miniseries stand-up comedy Paramount Plus fast and furious Syfy Extras ABC Set visit Comic Book cancelled television Christmas dramedy Paramount Network 2020 Fantasy doctor who Comedy Central Superheroes slasher rt labs MTV Disney Channel action-comedy Action dragons Mary Tyler Moore VICE Schedule Film Festival know your critic hidden camera 71st Emmy Awards news quibi canceled TV shows DirecTV Infographic remakes Thanksgiving finale Disney Plus festivals Photos mcc harry potter FOX festival 73rd Emmy Awards elevated horror Sundance YA new york BBC christmas movies Arrowverse feel good TV Land crime drama Podcast A24 Mindy Kaling rom-coms composers blockbuster Anna Paquin vampires directors Comics on TV films Spring TV south america Countdown space Summer hispanic worst movies Classic Film The Arrangement Grammys 2017 Kids & Family ABC Family aapi TCM international Marathons Tarantino CBS concert black scorecard renewed TV shows comic book movies Interview Hear Us Out biography Trophy Talk Sony Pictures tv talk Tomatazos classics Cannes BET diversity 2019 docuseries History animated jurassic park Disney adaptation TruTV 2016 Travel Channel Mystery Mary Poppins Returns Star Wars screen actors guild Hulu period drama SundanceTV 21st Century Fox cooking scene in color documentaries sitcom sag awards TCA 2017 Nickelodeon women psycho Epix royal family spider-man Fox Searchlight debate Reality Competition football based on movie Ovation heist movie dexter Watching Series reviews Lionsgate franchise target WarnerMedia Marvel Studios lord of the rings Lifetime Christmas movies superman Best and Worst streaming Ghostbusters PaleyFest justice league Starz Rocketman Comic-Con@Home 2021 CNN mockumentary sequel Video Games social media YouTube MCU Elton John posters Calendar 4/20 jamie lee curtis USA Network VH1 Awards reboot Character Guide OneApp theme song Binge Guide TNT ID Pride Month new zealand Comedy parents canceled Rock 45 politics spy thriller Biopics FX on Hulu 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Fall TV serial killer telelvision new star wars movies singing competition Film TCA kaiju Tubi Tumblr video police drama IFC Films fresh natural history Red Carpet Pirates chucky Sundance TV free movies GoT LGBTQ Opinion what to watch mission: impossible streaming movies marvel cinematic universe TV renewals kids laika boxoffice TV One BAFTA Logo Black History Month mutant cancelled TV series name the review rotten movies we love Bravo NBA E! Pop TV young adult book adaptation X-Men Warner Bros. monster movies spanish language HBO Go 2015 high school Spectrum Originals olympics Freeform The Walt Disney Company Superheroe Spike Adult Swim American Society of Cinematographers Disney streaming service cancelled all-time comic books science fiction Western Peacock sports Pixar cartoon Chernobyl toronto slashers Premiere Dates award winner Women's History Month deadpool TCA Awards Awards Tour nfl Cosplay RT21 pirates of the caribbean 2018 Walt Disney Pictures critics supernatural nbcuniversal australia best suspense comic book movie Tokyo Olympics zombies The CW latino Sundance Now anthology National Geographic Lucasfilm Musicals spain Pop Marvel CMT SXSW halloween cinemax robots documentary basketball Image Comics twilight Paramount Teen spinoff ViacomCBS green book Shondaland joker Television Academy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt popular docudrama book crime godzilla screenings 93rd Oscars cancelled TV shows TCA Winter 2020 binge Sci-Fi breaking bad sequels king kong Star Trek Black Mirror The Academy transformers children's TV Crackle obituary USA Fox News criterion live action Marvel Television Apple TV+ gangster Pacific Islander Endgame Nominations trailers asian-american Esquire video on demand Song of Ice and Fire saw Discovery Channel hispanic heritage month