Future Voices: Film review - The Congress highlights our celebrity obsession

The Congress. Picture: PA Photo/Studio Canal.

The Congress. Picture: PA Photo/Studio Canal. - Credit: PA

Attempting to explain the plot of The Congress is an attempt in futility, not only because the plot is so bizarre and difficult to describe it must be witnessed firsthand, but also because the plot itself doesn't really matter, in the scheme of things.

This film is completely thematic, rather than relying on narrative, making it either fascinating or unapproachable, depending on the mindset it is watched in.

In essence, it is a meditation on society's obsession with celebrity culture, showing a future in which the public literally 'consumes' celebrities on mass. This leads to almost a total loss of self from virtually everyone involved, highlighting a major theme of The Congress - the belief that attempting to escape to a 'better' and more desirable reality will render people soulless and empty, losing all they once had, and most importantly, losing themselves.

Because the universe created is intended to be cold and distant, the film's second act and transition into animation is incredibly jarring and somewhat overwhelming, but intentionally so, paralleling the protagonist's sense of alienation, and effectively telling the audience that if this world feels uncomfortable, there's still hope for them.

This film's appropriation of pop culture icons is particularly clever, re-contextualising them as projections of the desires of ordinary citizens, showing that no person can truly remain unique if people constantly live vicariously through media instead of their own reality, which can be interpreted as either deep nihilism or a delightfully humanist philosophy, depending on one's own beliefs.


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Ultimately, the film is a piece of pop art, and may have been terrible and shallow, or it may be impressive, engaging and incredibly deep - honestly, I'm not truly sure. What I am sure of, though, is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and its subtext, and those with an appreciation for art films most likely will too.

Summer Sapiano, 15, Taverham

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