Folman's new film "The Congress," which will open the Director's Fortnight program at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16, stars Robin Wright in one of the most intriguing roles of her career. Judging from the newly released international trailer, "The Congress" will be a cinch to fascinate sci-fi fans, animation enthusiasts, and film buffs who want entertainment that challenges the mind as it dazzles the eye.
Check out the trailer here:
In the trailer for "The Congress," Robin Wright plays "Robin Wright," an actress whose career is not what it used to be as she drifts deeper into middle age. As Robin sits with her agent (played by Harvey Keitel) in an ornate office with a spectacular view, he tells her, "You had it all, Robin. A movie queen at 24. All the big studios came crawling! And you slammed all the open doors, crushed all the dreams." We then cut from Robin's meeting to a kite flying in the air, being controlled by a young boy with large eyes and dark hair, who happens to be her son Aaron. Robin runs to Aaron as two dogs bark at him, and in voice over, Keitel says, "'Aaron needs me at home.' But Aaron is just an excuse." Back at the office, Wright asks Keitel, "And now what? What are they offering?"
Cut to another office, as Jeff, a florid man played by Danny Huston, makes his pitch to Robin. "We are to scan you, all of you," Jeff says. "Your body, your face, your emotions, your laughter, your tears … we want to sample you, preserve you, and we want to own this thing called Robin Wright."
Someone warns Wright, "Once they sample you, and you're in the computer, there's no way back. The studio owns the character." Wright ignores this and takes her agent's strongly worded advice. Wright is soon standing under a dome of lights, being scanned by the people who will now own her "character". But as a voice off screen says, "There is no such thing as the place that you came from," Wright is transported to a brightly colored animated landscape, where she interacts with a variety of bizarre anthropomorphic beings. At one point, a robot tells Wright, "You are the sixth one today … the sixth Robin Wright," while Wright, dressed in a futuristic costume with her hair moussed into a point, rides down a bomb in an homage to "Dr. Strangelove," and several similarly garbed Wrights stroll by. As Wright searches for her son Aaron in this alternate world, she is befriended by a handsome man voiced by Jon Hamm (who is also seen in flashes of live-action images) amidst explosions and chaos. Hamm's character tells Wright, "To find Aaron, we must go on a very long journey. You just make a choice, and you feel whatever you want. What do you choose?" Wright's choice is to fly away, oaring into the air under her own power as the trailer fated to black and the title fills the screen.
It's worth noting that the over-the-hill and washed-up Wright in the film stands in contrast to the real Robin Wright, who still looks lovely at 47 and is currently starring with Kevin Spacey in the popular Netflix series "House of Cards." But just as Wright's casting as "Robin Wright" plays with the audience's perception of the facts, director Folman toys with reality and fantasy as many of the principle characters appear in both live action and cartoon form. And regardless of how you might feel about the psychological undercurrents of "The Congress," the hand-drawn animated material in the trailer is beautiful and truly dazzling, reminding viewers that animation can be a powerful and exciting format for grown-up storytelling.
No date has been set yet for the United States release of "The Congress," but expect this to be one of the more buzzed-about films at Cannes. And given its striking visuals and a cast that features Paul Giamatti as well as Wright, Keitel, Hamm, and Huston, "The Congress" should certainly make waves once it does make its debut in North America.
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- Robin Wright