Robin Wright, playing a version of herself, lights up in disappointing movie.
THE CONGRESS (Ari Folman). 123 minutes. Opens Friday (August 29). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Freely adapted from a short story by Stanislaw Lem, The Congress opens in the present day with Robin Wright playing herself - or rather, a version of herself. This Wright didn't sign on to House Of Cards, has been struggling to find decent work and is now considering selling the rights to her likeness to a movie studio so she can "star" in computer-generated features - forever young and beautiful, able to do things the real Wright no longer can.
The sequence where Wright allows her physical self to be "captured" is a marvel of performance and timing: she's fantastic. But then the action leaps 20 years into the future, when Wright appears at a meeting of the world's corporate leaders - a meeting for which all attendees must inhale a chemical that causes them to hallucinate that they're now in a cartoon world - and The Congress explodes into animated anarchy, abandoning its themes of identity and personal agency as the 'toon Wright is dragged through a series of chases and shootouts by a square-jawed hero voiced by Jon Hamm.
Once we're locked into that reality, writer/director Ari Folman (Waltz With Bashir) plunges into a spectacular mess of competing ideas, vintage cartoon imagery and sci-fi pap, complete with a dystopian coda that makes things even messier.
I don't doubt for a moment that The Congress is exactly the movie Folman wanted to make. But I can't imagine it's one anybody else will enjoy.