Review: Seberg

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Actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) meets Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie) on a plane to Los Angeles. At this point, she was already an activist but after witnessing an example of racial injustice, she takes a photo with Hakim, becomes a donor to the Black Panthers, and they start an affair. At the same time, FBI agent Jack Solomon (Jack O'Connell) and his partner Carl Kowalski (Vince Vaughn) start bugging her phones and that eventually turns into a smear campaign that Jack increasingly becomes uncomfortable with it.

Admittedly, I don't know a lot about Jean Seberg, but I really like the cast. Margaret Qualley, Stephen Root and Zazie Beetz also have small roles. Plus the wonderful Rachel Morrison is the cinematographer so of course it's shot beautifully.

I liked the three different sides this film shows. It's most definitely Seberg's story and how she felt during all of this, but I liked seeing Hakim's wife Dorothy (Beetz) challenge Seberg about her privilege and for Solomon to come to the realization that what he's doing is beyond harmful. If only it didn't take him so long. Director Benedict Andrews (who did another film I liked, Una) marries all of these pieces together well.

Kristen Stewart is so good in this. I think it may be in her Top 3 for me personally. I don't know how well she got Seberg's mannerisms or accent but for the part she was playing, I thought she was wonderful. O'Connell gets the second most to do after Stewart and he does a great job as well.

It's a shame that I was the only person in the theater watching this. If it's playing near you, definitely go out and give it some of your theater money. It deserves it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+ (it loses a point for dog death. At least it's off screen)

Memorable Quote: "This is sick." - Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart)

12 comments:

  1. Having read the major Seberg biography "Played Out" I don't really feel a great pull to see this since the root idea of an affair with Jamal is I suspect blown all out of proportion.

    The affair was fleeting and of little consequence, at least at first. Then the FBI got wind of it and basically destroyed her life through constant hounding and the falsehood that the premature child she bore and who died within days was Jamal's. That seemed to be the final straw and she attempted suicide almost annually on August 25 (the date of the baby's death) until she finally succeeded. It's a heartbreaking story and I can understand how it won't be a big draw whether the acting is great or not.

    You might want to do a google search of the book's cover photos. One is of the fresh faced young Jean when she was first discovered with her hair shorn for Saint Joan bursting with energy and happiness and the other a burnt out husk of a woman just before her death. She looks ancient but is only 39 in the photo.

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    1. Yep, all of that is in the movie. I'm curious to read more about her to see how many liberties they took.

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  2. Jean Seberg was such a troubled soul and so much has been made about her death whether it was suicide or not. I believe it was. She is now little known but she was quite the name in the 1960s. Joel wrote a great comment about her here.

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    1. Her story seems so sad. After all the shit the Government did to her I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a suicide.

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    2. She'd been spiraling down for years before her death so in a way it was a long suicide whatever the final act was or not. There is no doubt that she was driven to it at least in part by the government and there is some supposition that she was drinking heavily with someone before she crawled into her car to die. It's hard to be sure since she wasn't found for nearly a week afterwards. It's all terribly tragic.

      If you can find it I'd recommend that bio I mentioned. It was quite comprehensive.

      If you're not familiar with her work as an actress she did some decent films though that blacklisting limited her career. She worked a great deal in French cinema and I've only seen a few of those but Breathless is essential.

      Otherwise Bonjour Tristesse (which has Deborah Kerr & David Niven too), Lilith (one of her best performances as an emotionally fragile girl that costars Warren Beatty & Peter Fonda), The Mouse That Roared with Peter Sellers, Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood & Lee Marvin a big musical that I found a thundering bore but others love and finally a movie and part she hated (and in which she wears the most horrendous blond wig) and took strictly for the loot but which I love...the all star Airport.

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    3. Lilith sounds really good. I definitely want to check out that biography you mentioned, especially after watching this.

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  3. I don't recommend Paint Your Wagon, a western musical that is just horrendous and it's why movie studios almost went out of business.

    I still want to see this as I've seen a couple of films starring Seberg in Bonjour Tristesse and of course, A Bout de Souffle as I'm also interested in what Kristen Stewart is doing as she's definitely doing things that are interesting as I applaud her and Robert Pattinson for showing the world there's more to them than Twilight.

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    1. There was always more to Stewart than Twilight, Pattinson I'm not as wowwed by but they're both making interesting choices now.

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  4. This is good to hear considering I've mostly heard bad things about the film. Seberg's life was so tragic. Loved her in Breathless and Bonjour Tristesse. She had such vigor before her life spiraled. You have revived my interest in this!

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    1. I suppose Seberg fans who know her actual story are probably more critical than me going in blind. I'm going to check out that book Joel talked about.

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  5. WHAT IS THIS!? I haven't even heard of this but the first paragraph had me so hooked. Also seems like good casting, am a bit 50/50 with Stewart but generally she can act well.

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    1. I like Stewart. Sure, Twilight was awful but she was solid in so many other things. You should see this!

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