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04 January 2006

Syriana (2005)

George Clooney, Jeffrey Wright, Matt Damon, and Alexander Siddig

Directed by Stephen Gaghan (screenwriter for Traffic)

From IMDB: "From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the film's multiple storylines weave together to illuminate the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power. Each character plays their small part in the vast and complex system that powers the industry, unaware of the explosive impact their lives will have upon the world."

This was part two of our Muskegon double feature. Yikes, but we should have seen Narnia afterwards, instead of first, as a pick-me-up from this depressingly current, realistic, and fatalistic film! While glossy and slick, like a television news special report, Syriana explores issues of oil resources, personal fall-out from every decision we never see, government involvement in all manner of business and international concerns, and cross-purpose covert opera- tions in a fashion much deeper and more compelling than Dateline's producers could ever manage.

I do not want to give away very much about the characters because their decisions and paths direct the plot of the film. Every character finds himself changed because of his proximity to the highest levels of Middle East decision-making. Alexander Siddig is a wonderful actor, from the days of "Deep Space Nine", and I was happy to see him making use of his abundant charisma and his native Arabic. George Clooney is just not meant to be unattractive, so the extra 40 pounds he gained for this role was distracting, but he really has evolved into a fantastically empathetic actor. The passions of his characters become the driving force of his movies, and this was no exception. And Matt Damon is finally growing up, which is a relief. His screen presence and talent are gaining substance and a harder edge as he gets older. He and Ben Affleck should not even be mentioned together when it comes to acting.

Jeffrey Wright, who I have not seen since his arrival in Basquiat, was the most bizarre, depressing, American moral center of this film, as a man who sought both justice and a global status quo that would allow for his own personal betterment. I found myself rooting against him because his success meant the defeat of more noble aspirations in the Middle East. However his career situation is probably most like that of my family. Oh, so depressing.

Keven said that whereas Gaghan's Traffic lent the impression of a marginally safe distance - that the drug trade only happened because of supply and demand, that personal rigor might possibly keep you from its sphere - Syriana tells us that the oil business, with its myriad facets and far-reaching consequences, is just plain evil. Manip- ulated by money and influence from the top down, heedless of the restrictions of supply and demand, big oil ruins nations and individuals while perpetuating a wasteful, passionately sought-after lifestyle in the West, particularly in the United States. It buys zebras for Texas ranchers to hunt with semi-automatic weapons and compels young men in Iran to join Islamic schools just to get a decent meal.

Yes, see this film. But be prepared for the ramifications. Nothing on the news will set about comparable feelings of disgust or the urge to seek change.

And like Narnia, I cried in this one as well because I certainly was not expecting an electrocuted child. Do NOT sneak that stuff into films. It tears me up!

Blogger Diva Kitty's Mom said...

Did you see Alexander Siddig in Spooks (AKA MI5)? Fabulous!

Blogger carrie_lofty said...

Didn't see that. But he is lovely, isn't he?


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