Argo TIFF 2012 Review

Posted 11 years ago by myetvmedia

Argo Film Review:

Ben Affleck’s Political Thriller Wins Multiple Awards & 6 Oscar Nominations

Director/actor Ben Affleck’s Argo based on the book Argo by writer and protagonist Tony Mendez, is a sure bet for an Oscar nomination as Best Film of the Year. (We made this prediction right after the TIFF Gala in Toronto).  More intriguingly Argo is a true story based on a series of international events involving Canada, the US, the CIA, Iran, Britain and Islamic revolutionaries that led to the hostage crisis that shocked the world.

1979 was a particularly difficult year for the United States of America. A deepening national self-doubt was emerging out of the prolonged Vietnam War with staggering inflation and unemployment at home.  Then on November 4th, 1979 an entire country was suddenly held hostage it seemed by a rogue Islamist regime. Argo is the declassified story of how CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) ingeniously ushered six Americans, escapees from the ill-fated American embassy in Tehran, out of Iran and to safety. For almost two decades, and at the insistence of the CIA, Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and Canada took sole credit for this incredible, and in retrospect, implausible rescue of these six Americans. The whole dangerous truth finally revealed does not diminish the Canadian efforts, but rather enhances and reminds us of how courageous Ken Taylor, his wife and their Iranian housekeeper were in harboring the Americans for months. Finally,  Mendez concocted ‘Argo’, his mercurial and gutsy fake movie production as a means to free his compatriots.  This is the stuff of legend and a gripping film script.

The Argo script is particularly engaging as a thriller with comic relief more than ably supplied by John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkinas Lester Siegel playing Hollywood Producers aiding and abetting Mendez in staging his fake movie. The ‘us against the rest’ skepticism is profoundly stated in their mantra and tribute to the fake production,  “Ar-go fuck your self”. The audience is not only given a privileged point of view of how this striking escape was engineered, but it is thoroughly entertained; you could sense the audience quietly but intensely cheering these protagonists on.

Ben Affleck’s double-up as the Director and lead in playing Mendez is remarkable. His performance is perfectly understated and passionate. As a CIA operative, anything more would have not given the film its essential credibility. As Director, he brings the same understatement and matter of fact story telling to the screen. There is a healthy political cynicism reserved for the Agency, and comically Hollywood, very much reflective of the times. President Carter, while trusted, was viewed as ineffectual. Government agencies were mistrusted. The nation was seething in the face of the audacity of the Iranians. The film conjured up very clear memories of anger, mistrust and violent intention. The Hostage crisis hit American shores as a metaphoric war on its people. I was a student in Boston then and it was not uncommon to see signs atop vans and trucks, “Bomb Iran”. Every night we were anxiously glued to Ted Koppel’s Nightline for news of the hostages. Persian students on campus slept in the Administration building under protection. American anger, frustration and a sense of helplessness were thick and palatable.

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Argo TIFF 2012 Review

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