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27. Seberg; movie review

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Title : 27. Seberg; movie review
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Cert 15
102 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong language, discrimination, nudity

I admit it. I usually lambast movies which purport to reflect history but mangle it so badly that they might as well be labelled as fiction.
I expected nothing of Seberg because of its very low score on Internet Movie Database and the negative soundbite quotes of Rotten Tomatoes.
And yet, I walked out of Sheffield Cineworld's screen 19, surprisingly satisfied with Benedict Andrews' movie.
This may well be down to the fact that I only knew Jean Seberg from her strangely stilted French in Breathless and the sexiest short haircut ever seen at the movies.
Therefore, I can't comment on criticisms that Kristen Stewart is understated in her role as the actress who comes under FBI surveillance because of her support of the civil rights movement in America.
And I might be accused of bias for my keenness on the performance of Derby's own Jack O'Connell in the much-maligned role of a fictitious FBI investigator.
O'Connell is the reluctant partner of a bullying bigot (Vince Vaughn) in not only monitoring Seberg but making her life hell.
To be honest, she doesn't help herself, making her support of the Black Panthers very public but worst still, having an affair with civil rights leader Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie).
As a consequence, the FBI set out to destroy her with tactics which most audiences would think are too extreme to be believed.
However, cursory reading shows that element of the movie to be true.
Andrews' film concentrates on their subterfuge in gaining information, what they do after they glean what they need and the couldn't-care-less attitude to those who are collaterally damaged.
I found Stewart compelling although I do accept that there is an unnecessary number of shots in which she is flouncing around in high fashion (would she really have dived into her pool in a yellow negligee in the middle of the night?).
And, I was also impressed by O'Connell's character who develops an empathy with his subject (however, some question the possibility of that happening).
All in all, I surprised myself by enjoying Seberg. That might be down to my penchant for 60s styles but I was also drawn in by its story.
I guess this shows that even my rules of cinema-watching are there to be broken.

Reasons to watch: Well-paced thriller
Reasons to avoid: Seberg's naivety grates at times

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 8/10

Did you know? Jean Seberg appeared in n 34 films in Hollywood and in Europe, including Saint Joan, Bonjour Tristesse, Lilith, The Mouse That Roared, Moment To Moment, A Fine Madness, Paint Your Wagon, Airport, Macho Callahan and Gang War In Naples.

The final word. Benedict Andrews: "I feel very blessed to have had Kristen play Jean at this moment where she’s really transforming, bearing the fruit of these choices she’s been making over the last decade, and you can really see that in Seberg, it’s a brave, confident performance.” The Hot Corn

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