Best-known in the United States for the Oscar-nominated “Waltz with Bashir” and HBO’s excellent series “In Treatment,” Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman takes on his most ambitious project yet with “The Congress,” a puzzle movie that works astonishingly well during its first half.
That’s the live-action part. Then, as he did with “Waltz,” Folman relies on psychedelic animation of adult dramatic material. It’s a mistake. Not necessarily because it’s animated but because it loses focus.
During those opening scenes, however, Robin Wright delivers a brave, eloquent performance as a washed-up Hollywood actress who once starred in hits (“The Princess Bride” is suggested as an example) but made a few lousy choices that tanked at the box office.
Danny Huston is wonderfully creepy as the malevolent studio chief who offers a squirm-inducing contract based on buying her image for eternity. Harvey Keitel is her agent, and Jon Hamm and Paul Giamatti add flavor to the mix.
Most Read Entertainment Stories
- Seattle native Jean Smart wins Emmy Award for lead actress in a comedy
- How John Coltrane's Seattle recording of 'A Love Supreme' was found, thanks to 2 local saxophonists
- Judge cancels Rod Stewart's trial, sets plea deal hearing
- List of Emmy winners includes Jean Smart, 'Ted Lasso' actors
- AP PHOTOS: Elegance and whimsy mix at Venice Film Festival
After this stunning setup, “The Congress” becomes as frustrating and expensive-looking as “Cloud Atlas.” Try to follow it and you may feel abandoned in a maze.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org