Yes, you are right. V for Vendetta is rated R. Yes, you are right. Courtney and I don’t watch rated R movies. You’d also be right, though, if you guessed that we had access to an edited copy. 🙂
Very, very, very rarely do I come away from a movie and say, “Now THAT was a film.” I have the honor today of presenting you with just one such example.
Where to start…. The film is set in what might be termed as post-apocalyptic England. A new government, somewhat reminiscent of the Soviet Union and possibly Nazi Germany, is in control, and the population is tightly kept in check. Into this mix, we insert a comic book-type hero (V) with a drive to bring down the government and restore freedom.
Not only is the plot interesting enough, but I feel it is entirely appropriate for today. I personally feel that we are consistently trading tomorrow’s freedoms for today’s lifestyle both in terms of federal finances and in terms of personal rights. Think about it. In the last 10 years, we’ve given up a host of personal freedoms (the right to choose health care, the right to privacy, and even, to some extent, the right to lawful imprisonment and search and seizure). The movie portrays a world where the government began by guaranteeing safety and peace but enforced those principles on crucified freedoms. We’re not there yet, but I can’t help but think that this film is not that far off base.
So, intellectually engaging and timely, which are both positives for this film.
Second, the characters are pleasing. V is especially charismatic even though you never see his face and his movements are subdued. He embodies so much by being so little. The reason for all this is abundantly clear by the end of the film and, if I were still in school, would be the basis of a character analysis paper I’m sure. The female lead, Evey (played marvelously by Natalie Portman), is equally good. Her character, while less subdued, certainly takes on the characteristics of oneness and becomes representative of the whole. Where V displays so much by doing so little, Evey displays the power of transformation and empowerment through very real and emotional changes.
Third, the filming is fun. If you remember, this was the followup film by the Wachowski brothers (makers of the Matrix trilogy). They follow much that same style with a healthy mix of reality and fiction. The filming is fast when needed, slow when needed, and the flashbacks are intelligently done. The style is simply attractive.
Fourth, you’re never really sure where you stand in the grand scheme of things, and the perspectives and mastery of the opinions are constantly shifted to make you think and rethink your position. Sure, you hate the government for all they are, but V is a terrorist. He’s an outright terrorist, and you, like Evey, both hate and love him for that. But again, the film is masterly woven, and when the climax finally does happen, you sit back satisfied for the representation of it all, the power of the message, and the firmness of your beliefs.
Oh, and a LOT of credit goes to the voice work for V (Hugo Weaving). He’s the same guy who played Elrond in LotR and the lead Agent in the Matrix series.
Well, it was an edited version, so no language, no sex, no gore. The violence was muted at best as well. Knowing the Wachowski brothers, the film is likely rated R based on violence alone, but I certainly wouldn’t guarantee that. I haven’t, after all, seen the unedited version.
There is one long scene that could be somewhat disturbing (you’ll know it), but it plays in with the rest of the film and, in large measure, is the reason that the film works. Without that, the decision made in the end is near meaningless.
Oh the pain on this one… It’s rated R, but, like I said, very rarely do I walk away from a movie that satisfied and that intellectually engaged. If you can get an edited copy, I would put this as a MUST BUY. If you can’t, well… that’s your decision, and I neither condone nor criticize.
Personally, we’ll be watching this one at least one more time before we give it back to our friends, and I’ll certainly be looking to get my own edited copy. It was simply that good.
Four out of four stars, and if it wouldn’t blow my entire rating system, I’d rate it much higher. Early favorite for best film of the year 2010 (even though, yes, it was filmed years ago).