V for Vendetta – Long But Stylish

V for Vendetta – Long But Stylish

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  1. In his directorial debut, James McTeigue took a comic book series written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd and made a stylish film that has garnered quite the fan base since its release in 2005:  V For Vendetta.  This film is written by The Wachowski Brothers (Andy and Larry) who are best known for directing the Matrix trilogy.  Interestingly, McTeigue was their first assistant director on all three of those films.  Giving him the reins of V For Vendetta worked out well because it is a very solid film.  It didn’t do anything at the Oscars, but comic book films rarely do.  It did however garner 4 awards including a Saturn Award and a SFX award, both for Natalie Portman as Best Actress.

    What is it about?

    The story of V For Vendetta is slowly revealed throughout the film but is relatively easy to follow once you have all the details.  It is set in a futuristic, dystopian England which is controlled by a government that may remind you of George Orwell’s novel "1984."  The story follows V (Hugo Weaving) as he seeks to take down this overbearing government.  His plan, however, gets slightly off track when he meets Evey (Natalie Portman).  He saves her life, then she saves his life, he takes her hostage, she runs away, she comes back, etc… they have a tumultuous relationship to say the least.

    V’s plan involves more than the governent, though.  He also seeks out violent retribution on the group of people that ran a facility which was involved in horrific tests on multiple subjects.  He was one of those subjects.  He claims they did monstrous things and they deserve to die for those things.  Ultimately, the main story is about V’s plan to make his unique philosophy come true because he thinks it will make England a better place for the common man.  The emotional story, though, is about V’s relationship with Evey and how they help each other overcome their personal issues.

    Is it any good?

    The film has its problems, but those problems are outweighed by the things that are done well.  The three best things about this film are V’s dialogue, Natalie Portman’s performance as Evey, and the cinematography by Adrian Biddle.

    V’s dialogue is wonderful for a handful of reasons.  It is unique, making it unlike any dialogue you will find in any other film.  It also reveals a lot about V’s character.  His speech patterns are very methodical, precise, and well-planned just like his plot to take down the government.  Hugo Weaving also does a fantastic job of delivering his lines in such a way that V sounds as unique a character as you will see in film.

    Natalie Portman is simply fantastic in most of her roles but, other than her role as Nina in 2010’s Black Swan, Evey may be her best role.  She shows her amazing emotional range, draws the audience in with her strong-yet-vulnerable exchanges with V, and brings a refreshing sweetness to counteract the darkness of the film.  Also, you have to give her kudos for going all out and actually shaving her head!

    Finally, the look of this film is stunning.  You could pause the film at almost any point and the still image would be a great photograph.  For that, we have Adrian Biddle (Director of Photography) to thank.  He has shot other classics such as Aliens (1986) The Princess Bride (1987), Thelma and Louise (1991), The World Is Not Enough (1999), and many others.  V For Vendetta was his last film before he died on December 7, 2005.  His work will certainly be missed.

    The film is not without problems, though.  It is a bit too long making it a little awkwardly paced.  It also could benefit from a little more subtlety with its message.  It as a lot to say about governmental control and such, but it is rather heavy-handed when trying to get that across.  Allowing some room for the audience to figure out what the film is trying to say would make the audience connect with it a little more.  Overall, though, these things aren’t enough to make V For Vendetta a bad film.  It’s very good and will be watched for years to come.

    Nolan’s Grade:  B-

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