V for Vendetta

Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry,
and John Hurt star in a film based on the graphic novel by Alan
Moore, written by Andy and Larry Wachowski, and directed by James

In V for Vendetta, we have a future Great Britain ruled by a
dictatorship. All power is held by an alliance of the national
security apparatus (fear) and evangelical religion (guilt). This
alliance took power by capitalizing on a disaster that they
themselves had brought about. Now there has arisen a one-man
resistance movement, calling himself “V,” who dresses like a
Jacobean inquisitor and wears a mask that is a stylized image of
Guy Fawkes, the Catholic nobleman who was caught planting explosive
charges under Parliament on November 5, 1605 — an event celebrated
annually, with fireworks, in Great Britain, but unknown in America,
except to hardcore Anglophiles. V thinks the Britons should take
out the trash and start over. He announces his arrival by blowing
up the Old Bailey courthouses.

Nothing could be more inappropriate than to film this story in
the film noir or heavy metal style, styles which speak either to a
hopelessly corrupt city of night or a Wagnerian daydream. The
Wachowskis and James McTeigue have made a movie that, for all its
comic book origins, has a serious intention, so the style is more
like Costa-Gavras with a touch of optimism.

The script calls for actors of rare abilities, and the movie has
them. Natalie Portman’s power seems to grow exponentially with
every picture. She draws the viewer into her character, compels
empathy, breaks all hearts as she breaks her own. Stephen Fry has a
special, immensely likable presence in everything he does. As the
two honest, apolitical detectives who are trying to track down V
like they would any perpetrator, Stephen Rea and Rupert Graves get
us to trust them as they decide — rare in totalitarian regimes — to
trust each other. And that is what the Wachowskis want us to do:
trust each other. This is quite a wonderful film.


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