Saturday 27th April from 8pm
Dir: Ben Affleck, 2012, Canada, 120 mins, Cert 15
“Argo (2012) is a fantastically tense thriller starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman. Set during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the film follows Affleck’s character Toby Mendez as a CIA operative who “gets people out” of such situations. The film is particularly interesting in its deviations from the standard Hollywood thriller: moral ambiguity underpins the film’s premise (the US have deposed a liberal, secular leader in Iran in favour of a despot, riots against whom have led to the hostage storming of the US embassy). Argo allows audiences to view the layered nature of the international crisis, like looking at a cross-section of an event. The tenacity to play on a factual subject is rewarded with a top level of dramatic tension.
Chris Terrio’s screenplay is adapted from the real-life Toby Mendez’s memoir of the subject, The Master of Disguise. This has been done very well: the script jumps from brutally spare dialogue between hostages to the beautifully profane language of the government operatives thousands of miles away, with no suspension of the oppressive tension that accompanies the plot.
Affleck’s directorship is considered. Particularly impressive is the way in which the frequent change of scenes act as a counterpart to the motif of the ongoing struggle of hostages, rather than disrupting the accumulating suspense. In this way, Affleck creates a film with the dual status of being a quality Hollywood thriller and an artfully decorous, self-reflexive piece of cinema.” Will Johnson