Reactions to V for VENDETTA seem poles apart: in general, the respected critics hated it but movie-goers are loving it. I guess I fall somewhere between the two poles. My first reaction was huge disappointment. In an Orwellian future, the UK is controlled by a fascist government, headed up a Big Brother-like Chancellor played by the marvellous British actor John Hurt.* Hugo Weaving plays "V", a terrorist who blows up Government buildings. V saves a young girl called Evey, played by Natalie Portman, (the stripper in CLOSER and Queen Amidala in Star Wars I thru III) and she eventually joins his cause. So far, so fantastically interesting. You have to love any movie that sends up an authoritarian "Chancellor", and attacks a fascist government that infringes upon our civil liberties. I never thought that a Hollywood that cannot quite bring itself to give a gay movie the Best Picture Oscar would make a movie that portrays terrorists as heroes! I'm loving the controversy and the honest exploration of the duties that fall on a citizen in the face of a repressive society.
However, the depression kicks in when you realise that the convoluted plot has more holes in it than Rab C Nesbitt's string vest. In addition, the film is populated by a bunch of high-class British character actors. Now, this is, of course, a good thing for international audiences. But for us Brits it can jar when we are expected to accept establishment boffin Stephen Fry as an instrument of sedition. He hosts the BAFTAs!
Anyways, I watched this movie again yesterday with altered expectations and realised that I had been way too harsh. If you just want a large dollop of popcorn-style trashy entertainment, you could do worse than see V. It has all the requisite whistles and bangs, as you would expect from a movie written by the guys who gave us The Matrix and the directed by the First AD on The Matrix and Star Wars II. In addition, the whole thing is wonderfully camp, and teeters on the brink of BATMAN AND ROBIN kitsch-tastic status. I can't take it remotely seriously, but then I do not think I am meant to. (Unlike Syriana, which wanted to be taken seriously but was still hillariously twee in its rendering of the Middle-East conflict.)
V for VENDETTA was shown at Berlin 2005 and is now on release in the US, UK, Germany and Austria. It hits France on April 19th 2006. *Amusing that Winston Smith has been resurrected as Big Brother. Kind of like when the People's Republic of Sheffield's David Blunkett turned up twenty years later as the most repressive Home Secretary in post-war British history.