Ben Affleck directs and stars in Argo: a new film that tells the riveting story of six Americans who escaped the overrun Iranian embassy in 1979 and found themselves trapped in a nation desperate to find and exploit them (or worse).
The story is one that’s been around for some time now having been declassified by Bill Clinton in 1997 but never told with such emotion or impact. The timing of the event just happened to coincide with my being 15 which means we spent a lot of time dissecting this in high school for various classes. Outside of school the events dominated our lives. Many of those images are etched into my memory. The film presented them so realistically that it all came rushing back—the good and the bad. I remembered the patriotism that followed and the myriad of yellow ribbons (the first major use of awareness ribbons in America). I also lost my innocence regarding American politics and the morality of our choices as the deposed Shah hurried all over the world looking for asylum only to be taken in by the nation that made his terrible reign possible.
The look, feel and aura of this entire film is haunting and effective. Everyone feels genuine from the six potential hostages to the Iranian guards and security personnel. I spent the entire time on edge even though I lived through the events already and that’s saying something.
You can tell that this was a labor of love for Affleck. No detail seemed too small down to casting actors who looked eerily similar to everyone involved.
The biggest detraction from the film is, unfortunately, typical Hollywood (which is a bit ironic given the plot of the film). While this is based on a true story, nearly all of the most tense scenes are entirely made up. There’s also a major character who’s created out of thin air while eschewing another for no apparent reason.
In the end Argo stands as a fantastic experience but it falls very short as an example to be used to tell this true story.