Jun 22, 2006

Film Review: Syriana

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128 minutes, rated R for violence and language

Those who are looking for pleasant films with tidy, heartwarming endings need read no further. Syriana has none of what you seek.

The film is a disturbing, intelligent work that examines the geopolitical struggle for oil in which we find ourselves. Syriana depicts a world where multinationals compete for limited petroleum supplies, governments curry favor with the corporations, and most of the people on the planet live out their lives trying not to think too hard about the ugly truth.

Those dig too hard for the truth wind up bitter. Or dead.

There are no heroes in the film, as every character exhibits contemtible personality flaws; the business of oil seems to corrupt everyone involved.

This is not a great film, as director Stephen Gaghan's love of interwoven storylines sometimes makes the plot hard to follow. Too often the characters revert to stereotype (greedy CEOs, soulless government operatives, violent Islamists), and the occasional subtitles during Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu conversations tend to be annoyingly placed over bright backgrounds, making dialogue hard to follow.

Still, Syriana is an important work, if for no other reason than for its ability to spark debate. It is bleak, it offers no simplistic solutions, and it is a film that you should rent tonight.

Just don't look to the film as a few hours of escapist diversion, because the questions implicitly asked in the film will stick with you for a long time.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That movie scared the hell out of me.

josh narins said...

Saw it last night.

Didn't think it was even a particularly good movie.

Kinda important, though.

Did you see Gunner Palace? That's important.

Kate said...

I'm going to see this. I know that there is an entire world of trade and power involved here that I have no comprehension of.

I see enough to know something is there and I will see this movie.

It defies logic to assume that there isn't a powerful underbelly associated with this powerful commodity. And I never have believed in coincidence.

-Sepp said...

I saw it months ago via a bootleg that was passed on to me. I thought it was crap. Possibly a good story line that could have been directed better.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Like most pseudo-reality films, entertainmet is not the intent.