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February 05, 2006
FROM DIRECTOR Stephen Gaghan
AND STARRING George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Siddig, Amanda Peet, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, and so on …
What is it about? It's about the world we live in today. It's about oil, corruption, the Middle East, terrorism, capitalism, fundamentalism, unemployment, American corporations, the CIA.
Who's in it? Everyone. It's about fathers and sons. The disillusioned CIA undercover agent. His son. The idealistic energy analyst. His wife and son(s). The reformist Arab prince. His father and brother. The quiet oil lawyer. His father. The Pakistani boy trying to ekk out a living in the Persian Gulf. His father. The corrupted heads of corporations. The old man behind the whole thing. The invisible heads working inside the CIA. The ulamas spreading the word of Allah. The anonymous-looking Chinese who are taking over firms one by one.
What's the point? Everything is connected. Who's right, who's wrong? You're asking the wrong questions, baby.
This film is about oil, but not a single drop of it is seen anywhere, the same way oil lawyers never came across the commodity they're defending. The movie keeps moving forward, so fast that if you miss a beat you realise you suddenly don't understand the whole story. And even if you were following the story carefully you may not be able to hold the entire thing in your head.
Because such is the current state of our modern capitalistic world. The film is based on a book, which is based on true events; however, everything in the film is fictional. What writer-director Stephen Gaghan (who won an Oscar for Traffic) tried to do was to present a film that reflects the way the world is, without any political bias or opinion – and he spent a couple of years just to research and write the movie. I trust him. The world he presents is a scary place. It's scary because we've been so ignorant of what's going on, most of us.
Gaghan is aided by a great cast – every one is a bit player, but they are all well-portrayed, and many will leave their impression on you. The cinematography and music are kept simple, chaotic only when it needs to be. All of this helps, because the story is complicated enough as it is.
Film is not just entertainment. Does this entertain? Depends on who you are. But if you want to have an understanding of how our world works – do yourself a favour.
Deserves Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Alexander Siddig and Jeffrey Wright, not Clooney), Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Original Screenplay.