Seberg (2019). Film review of the drama starring Kristen Stewart

Image of Kristen Stewart in the film Seberg


star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

Film review, by Claire Durrant, of Seberg, the drama about the tragic life of French New Wave actress Jean Seberg, played by Kristen Stewart.

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Based on the real events of the tragic life of French New Wave actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewert) who became targeted by the FBI due to her political involvement in the civil rights movement, as well as being romantically associated with Black Panther member, Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie.)

Review, by @claire_d_air

The beginning of the year is an exciting time for film fanatics in the UK.

We get the last batch of Oscar – and other film awards – nominated movies coning out in cinemas leading up to the Academy Awards…and they are always plenty of them.

With all these prestigious films taking up many screenings at the cinema, the smaller films released tend to go unnoticed.

So what is Claire to do when she has seen all the big films that are currently out? I pay a visit to a film that isn’t getting as much marketing or attention – Seberg.

If you have ever studied world cinema or are a fan of expanding your horizons beyond Western mainstream cinema, you have probably come across French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard’s most celebrated film À bout de souffle (1960).

The infamous film launched American actress Jean Seberg as an iconic actress and activist in Europe.

The film begins in the late ‘60s in which Seberg feels nonchalant about her acting career and instead wants to make a more powerful difference in the world. Enter Hakim Jamal – a Black Panther activist – and Seberg becomes passionate about supporting his cause financially, as well as getting to know him romantically.

Kristen Stewart shines above her cast mates here, who by no means put in poor performances. Stewart impressively embodies the suaveness and determination Seberg was known for and the actress excels in the scenes in which Seberg was cruelly driven to paranoia and depression.

After her roles in Personal Shopper (2016) and Certain Women (2016), Stewart is becoming a compelling actress to watch…when in the right film.

Despite great acting, the film’s biggest downfall is its underwhelming and underdeveloped script. It is clear that there are two writers credited for this film, because it wants to go in two directions without giving enough attention to one storyline. What the film should be and what you would expect is the true biopic of an actress who was besmirched by the FBI due to her political activism.

Instead the film spends a lot of its running time giving a backstory to actor Jack O’Connell’s fictional character, FBI Agent Jack Solomon. Solomon serves as the film’s conscience, and has doubts about COINTELPRO* and the projects targeted at Seberg.

I don’t know if this character was invented to state that not all of the FBI were horrid back then, but his hero’s arc to the story is an insult. The harsh reality is, J. Edgar Hoover despicably ordered the harassment and infiltration of Jean Seberg, which led to her being defamed and suicidal.

It is disappointing that this film is a mess, but I would recommend you watch it purely for the impressive acting and to be educated on what is a tragic yet enthralling story.

With plenty of reputable films currently in the cinema, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the choices – with a short running time of one hour and forty-three minutes, Seberg makes a great palate cleanser.

For more, see Amazon.

*”A series of covert and, at times, illegal projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting American political organizations.” Wikipedia.

Cast & credits

Director: Benedict Andrews. (Phreaker Films/Bradley Pilz Productions/Automatik/Ingenious Media/Nelly Films). (15).

Producers: Marina Acton, Fred Berger, Kate Garwood, Stephen Hopkins, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Bradley Pilz/Alan Ritchson.
Writers: Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse.
Camera: Rachel Morrison.
Music: Jed Kurzel.
Sets: Jahmin Assa.

Kristen Stewart, Anthony Mackie, Jack O’Connell, Yvan Attal, Margaret Qualley, Vince Vaughn.


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