Movie Review: Seberg16th December 2020
The life of Jean Seberg is a truly interesting one. Her need to do right in the world was, unfortunately, her undoing. Finding myself surprisingly excited for Seberg, the biopic of her final years as she finds herself involved with the politics of the Black Panther group, I should have been warier. Not just because of those involved in the project, but how they would handle such a subject matter. I’d expected love and respect, what I received was a general flippancy usually reserved for the most mundane of subjects. Surprising, considering just how manic and exciting a story this is, to talk in the most ghoulish of ways. The final years of Seberg are wrought in personal struggle and a destabilisation caused by those around her, a tragic story in need of a careful handling.
I don’t suppose getting director Benedict Andrews to helm this project was the best of choices. The first film I’ve seen by him, and by all accounts his second foray into English-language filmmaking, his breach into the Hollywood machine doesn’t seem to have gone all that well. He’s a director who will fail to reach the heights he feels so destined for, instead he’ll carve out a comfortable niche of filmmaking that will see him craft mediocre projects over a series of years, providing brief avenues of interest for those who wish to fully complete the filmography of some elusive actor who just happened to appear in one of his films. Seberg doesn’t have much appeal, and although the cast moves from strength to strength with Kristen Stewart, Anthony Mackie, and Vince Vaughn all appearing, they don’t give performances that strike me as interesting.
That’s a shame, though, since Stewart as of late has truly left her comfort zone. Trying her best to remove the stench of Twilight, her latest films have been erratic and inconsistent. More power to her for trying to break the mould, and with Charlie’s Angels she does manage it somewhat, but we’ve still a long way to go before she can free herself of Seberg–esqe features. Personal Shopper was a good draw, but, much like her Twilight co-star, money is made in big budget studio pieces. Perhaps we’ll see something grander from her later on, don’t give out hope just yet, her performance alongside Mackie is solid, with the two sharing decent enough chemistry. They save portions of the film, but not enough.
Toothless and cowardly, hiding behind the least-controversial route of telling Seberg’s story, and not doing it justice either. I’m not even sure it’s all that accurate, but my lack of knowledge about this period is going to leave me frustrated and rather underwhelmed. Seberg is an odd biopic, frustratingly poor considering its solid leading performance and the draw of big-name supporting actors. A good biopic will educate as well as entertaining, Seberg does neither.