Monday, February 27, 2006

Movie Review -- Syriana

Syriana is the latest from writer/director Stephen Gaghan. It's a politically-driven, ensemble piece about the complexities of the global oil industry and its impact on individuals and nations. The storyline is a complex web but still rather simple, as it follows different threads of the same story, each thread connected to an individual that ties back to the larger story. The movie stars George Clooney as a C.I.A. operative working out of the Middle East, Matt Damon as an energy analyst who loses his son and then tries to aid a Gulf Prince (played by Alexander Siddig) in future oil investments, and Mazhar Munir as a migrant worker who somewhat unwillingly turns terrorist.

The film is powerful and depressing, but honestly I wasn't moved by it as I was by Gaghan's film, Traffic (directed by Steven Soderbergh). I found the characters' motivation and development to be somewhat confusing, and unlike the always intriguing Traffic, found myself lost in their interwoven storylines. Perhaps it's just not my type of movie, but I found myself thinking, "Global oil industry corrupt; so what? Tell me something I don't know." The most intriguing and fresh storylines belonged to Munir, and Damon and Siddig, but I found Munir's story, in particular, to be on the backburner at times. His was the one I wanted more of. Less Clooney, more Munir.

Is the film neutral? Not really. It definitely critiques the profit-driven industry and the global economy. But it never resorts to namecalling Republicans or Democrats, and even though it takes a definite stance, it does so in a complex way. Overall, it's an important film, one that deserves the attention it's receiving (though Clooney's performance isn't all that, in spite of the fact that he'll probably score at Oscar).

I give it 3 1/2 lukewarm stars.


Blogger Julia said...

I have free tix to this so I'll refrain from reading your review until I get around to seeing it, hopefully this week.

2:23 PM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

I can't wait to hear your opinion!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

I must admit, I didn't really like Syriana at all. Found it difficult to follow, and most of the time I just didn't care about what happened to the characters.

3:49 PM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

That was sort of my reaction -- I think it was a well done movie in terms of direction and cinematography and writing, but I couldn't keep track of all of the characters probably because I was so withdrawn from their lives.

3:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home