SEBERG

★★★

1960s RACE BIOPIC MISSES MARK BUT DELIVERS CAPTIVATING PERFORMANCES

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
22nd January 2020

As someone who goes to the movies as often as I do, it's rare to go into a film blind - even with social media, it's hard to avoid trailers and spoilers for films. Every so often, there is one movie that arrives where I know absolutely nothing about - and that's the case with 'Seberg'. Going in, I knew Kristen Stewart was in it and that's about it, but what was the most surprising is that this is set in the 1960s... interesting considering Stewart's look.

When actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart, 'Charlie's Angels', 'Underwater') begins talking to Hakim Jamel (Anthony Mackie, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier', 'The Night Before'), an African American activist, the FBI's surveillance program begins to target her. As Seberg becomes more involved in the civil rights movement, the surveillance becomes more and more intense, and she becomes more and more paranoid.

Where the film really shines is the acting, with Stewart once again proving her dramatic ability. She really captures Seberg's struggle and downfall into paranoia; she is a really strong lead. The supporting cast also brings their A-game - Jack O'Connell ('Money Monster', 'Unbroken') plays Jack Solomon, one of the leads on the case at FBI, who's also the film's moral compass and doesn't want anyone to get hurt. Vince Vaughn ('Fighting with my Family', 'Hacksaw Ridge'), while in a small role, continues to prove what a hard-ass he is.

The film does really go all the way with its 60s setting; it feels very much of the era. Even though Stewart's hair is accurate to Seberg's, her style comes across as a bit jarring at times, and takes a while for her to blend in with the rest of the movie's world. The film has some time period issues, but for the most part, it aesthetically fits into its 60s setting, and yet they have done very little to make Stewart look like she is from the era. She looks like herself, and the biggest giveaway is her hair - it's very modern, which is unfortunate considering how good a performance she is giving, and a good wig could have easily made it work easier.

Where the film really shines is the acting, with Stewart once again proving her dramatic ability. She really captures Seberg's struggle and downfall into paranoia; she is a really strong lead. The supporting cast also brings their A-game.

The film gets muddled because it has one too many plots and wants to treat them with the same level of importance. It goes from Seberg and her relationship with her ex-husband (Yvan Attal) and son to her affair with Jamel. But then it also wants to focus on Jamel's wife (Zazie Beetz, 'Joker', 'Deadpool 2') and how she is coping with her husband cheating on her, but then also wants to focus on Solomon and how he is balancing his job while feeling sympatric for Seberg, but then also his wife (Margaret Qualley, 'Strange but True', 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood') not knowing why her husband is never home.

It's a lot to focus on, and while these plot points all mean well, they can't be treated equally, especially when the movie is called 'Seberg'; the focus should always be on her.

Jean Seberg isn't a well-known enough actress to throw you into a story about her without her, and the film does little to give us a sense of her career. We know she was big in France and has somewhat of a following but we never really see her act, nor see much of the movies she was in.

While 'Seberg' shines in its performance, it stumbles from a messy script and lack of focus. It's worth checking out, especially for Stewart, and to learn about this part of history that you may not know of.

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