"Clever But Confusing and Lewd"
What You Need To Know:
THE CONGRESS is creative and captivating, but confusing. The story is set in a nominalistic pagan world where people create their own reality. However, the female protagonist eventually realizes this virtual world is wrong and speaks against it. This puts her life in danger. Sadly, THE CONGRESS contains some gratuitous foul language, sexual immorality and explicit nudity. So, extreme caution is advised.
(PaPaPa, RoRo, EvEv, AcapAcap, B, AC, C, Ab, LLL, V, SS, NN, DDD, MMM) Very strong somewhat mixed pagan worldview where people can change their virtual reality by taking a drug and being whoever they want to be with strong Romantic, pro-evolution elements, flavored with strong anti-capitalist elements where capitalistic enterprise creates an undesirable world and some moral sentiments expressed mainly by the female protagonist who eventually opposes the fictional world, plus a reference to Jesus and to people being able to play Jesus in a virtual animated reality but in a slightly mocking tone; 23 spoken obscenities and four profanities; some action violence, including man shot in head during an animated portion of the movie; strong sexual content includes fornication depicted and animation of a couple fornicating; upper and rear female and male nudity; no alcohol use; smoking and female protagonist sniffs chemical to enter into animated fantasy world, plus, throughout the animated fantasy world, the animation characters are constantly sniffing drugs/chemicals that cause them to hallucinate and become anyone or anything they want to be and create their own reality; and, greed, moral relativism, manipulation, coercion and abuse of power by leaders, lying, death.
THE CONGRESS opens with real life actress Robin Wright pressured with a decision to accept one more deal from big-time the movie studio Miramount. Al, her longtime friend and agent, pleads with her to take this deal of a lifetime. Neither Al, nor the movie studios, will let her forget how many times she allowed anxiety attacks and made excuses about her disabled son needing her, to get out of jobs she felt conflicted about doing.
When Robin meets with Miramount’s CEO, Jeff Green, he is driven by greed and the need to survive in an ever-evolving entertainment industry. He proposes to digitally capture to own all the images and the character of Robin Wright. Robin will be compensated handsomely if she agrees. If she takes this deal, then the studio can do whatever they want with the persona of Robin Wright, and Robin must agree to never act again in movies, TV, theater or anywhere at all.
Robin has chosen to love and care for her two children over her career countless times in the past. She is especially close to her son Aaron who will over time completely lose his sight and hearing. Robin is now an out-of-work, aging actress. She must choose between an opportunity to be digitally immortal and well compensated if she relinquishes all rights and ownership of her image versus life as she knows it with her family and autonomy as an actress to be free to express what she feels, wants, believes, or values. Eventually, however, Robin decides to take the deal.
Twenty years later, some scientists have been able to create a virtual animated world where people can adopt any persona and character they want. Robin is summoned for a special meeting of The Congress, which regulates the fictional world. The gate guard lets Robin know that once she sniffs a chemical, she will be able to leave the real world forever and dwell in the world of animation. Robin takes the drug and instantly begins to hallucinate psychedelic images. Once inside the hotel, it soon becomes apparent that each character is living his or her own fantasized reality.
Robin’s invited as an honored guest to attend a celebration giving praise to the lab scientists who discovered how to use Robin’s DNA to bring autonomy to the people who decide to exist in the animated world. Now, the people can choose what they want to feel and who they want to be. They can even choose to be Robin Wright, or even Jesus Christ. During Robin’s introduction to this virtual world of animated, an animation transforms into what appears to be Jesus, and loaves and fish fall out of the folds of his garment.
Robin realizes that this virtual world is wrong and speaks out against it. A revolt breaks out, and Robin is in danger in her new animated existence. She meets an animated Dylan, who has been her animator for the past 20 years. He helps her to safety and leads her in a search for the one thing precious to her now – her children, especially Aaron. On their quest, Robin and Dylan bond and are sexually intimate.
Eventually [SPOILERS FOLLOW], Robin does what was thought impossible and returns to the real world to find her son. She finds out she’s too late and that he “crossed over” into the virtual animated world. Heartbroken, she’s determined to go back to the animation world and find him, even though she’s told there’s no way to find Aaron because he could be anyone now.
Robin takes the chemical and decides to be Aaron from birth to adulthood to see if she can find him. At the end of this journey, she actually does find Aaron, who’s become a pilot during the early days of flight and the Wright brothers.
THE CONGRESS is entertaining and creative, but it’s hard to follow the movie’s confusing storyline. Also, the movie is too long, over two hours. The movie is a creative attempt by director Ari Folman to bringing live-action drama and animation together. It also shows an unfortunate perception of the big movie studios of how the entertainment industry wants to own the actors, then discard them when they are too old, no longer in demand, or no longer useful to the studio. The perception given is that the studio is doing Robin a great favor by preserving her image and essence for eternity.
THE CONGRESS is a cornucopia of worldviews, though the dominant world of the movie is a nominalistic pagan one, with elements of Romanticism and evolution. Scientists are celebrated for finding a way to make Robin Wright into a substance that people can drink and imagine Robin however they want. No more waiting for movies and animators to tell them who the characters are or how they should feel. There are also some strong anti-capitalist elements when the greedy studio CEO tries to make a fortune off Robin Wright’s image. Lastly, some moral elements create a counter-balance. Thus, Robin, her son’s doctor and Dylan disagree with the way the world is heading, and Robin has strong feelings for her children. Sadly, THE CONGRESS contains some gratuitous foul language, sexual immorality and explicit nudity. So, extreme caution is advised.