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Seberg Movie Review: FBI Destroyed A Legend, Kristen Stewart Brings Her Alive




Seberg(Amazon Prime)

Starring Kristen Stewart, Jack O’Connell, Anthony Mackie, Yvan Attal

Directed  by Benedict Andrews

Rating: *** ½ (3 and a half stars)

Allow me to make  a confession. I have in recent times, become a  huge fan  of  the mesmeric Twilight star Kristen Stewart.She has gone from strength to strength . If you have seen her in Clouds  Of Sils Maria(29014), Certain Women(2016),  Personal Shopper(2016) and Lizzie(2018) you  would witness the evolution  of one of  American  cinema’s most  influential contemporary actresses.

In Seberg,an autobiographical recreation of the iconic  French actress Jean Seberg’s ruination in America  in the hands the FBI,Kristen is  much  more than a sum-total  of  the  plot. She rises and shines giving to the  beautiful psychologically  fragile actress’s  life-wreckage a smudge of sensuality and  grace  I have never seen  in cinema about self-destructive actresses.

 The film based  on  actual incidents in Ms Seberg’s life will leave you shaken by its powerful portrayal  of  the Government’s misuse of power even in a democracy, or rather , SPECIALLY in a democracy where any move of protest that is  anti-government is  interpreted as anti-National.  Not fearing the backlash Jean Seberg lends moral and  financial support to the Black-power movement in the US thereby incurring the wrath of  the American  government.

This is  America in the  1960s and racial passions are  running high.Jean Seberg jumped into the simmering racial tensions,with ruinous repercussions.

 The scenes  of her  surveillance are so  much more than the  ‘thriller’ thing…you know that sense  of barging in  on something momentous that the American surveillance  organizations specially the  FBI specialize  in? Here  the  sense of  violated privacy is  so intense  we sense the actress  coming apart  personally and  professionally.The FBI and  its members are seen as  woefully  immoral.

 If we had to describe the  hounding of  Jean Seberg  in  a sound form it would have to  be  a rip. From the  opening sequence when we see  Jean Seberg in her  historic burning-on-the-stake  scene  in Joan Of Arc we  know what  the  narrative feels about the  celebrity woman’s  politics being used to destroy her self-esteem.

At a time when the violation of  an  individual’s privacy has become  endemic this  film comes as  a timely and  effective warning. Kristin Stewart makes no  attempt to  impersonate Jean Seberg. Her ferocious focus is on capturing the  devastating  ruination of a legend  in the hands of powerful forces, almost  like  a horror film where a hapless victim is attacked by an  invisible spirit.

Ms Stewart is  sure to get herself an Oscar nomination  next year. The  other outstanding performance comes  from British actor Jack O’Connell who is assigned by the FBI to trail and record Ms  Seberg’s  movements . His dilemma of the conscience  is a throbbing  presence in this riveting drama  of  despicable  damnation.

I came away from the film with the sense of great injustice  . My heart reached  out to a woman who was  used even by the people whose cause she upheld .As her Black hero Hakim Jamal(Anthony Mackie) aptly describes her, she is a  woman running around with nails in  her  fist looking  for someone  to  crucify her. Some people are  born suckers.Tragically  Ms  Seberg was one of them.

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