Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jack O’Connell, Anthony Mackie, Margaret Qualley
Director: Benedict Andrews
I think Amazon was expecting a little more out of Seberg by releasing it during awards season, and even though it fell flat, it’s still a very respectable movie. Stewart’s career has taken quite the turn since she shifted away from mainstream movies, but what it’s shown us is that she’s a versatile and talented actress who will one day get the credit she deserves. As a dark, thrilling look at the true impact the Civil Rights Era had on those fighting for justice, Seberg accomplishes its goal and shows us the lengths to which the government will go to maintain the status quo.
The film follows Jean Seberg (Stewart), an actress who is captivated by the Civil Rights Movement after meeting Hakim Jamal (Mackie). As the two begin to work closer with one another, the FBI begins to monitor their lives and looks for every bit of evidence to bring them down and discredit the work of other Civil Rights leaders. Naturally this has a negative impact on their well-being and we see just how much of an influence the FBI had on their lives and the consequences that come from their relationship. While a clearer direction probably would’ve elevated Seberg into the contender Amazon was expecting it to be, the foundation for success was fundamentally there. The story is still relevant today and the misinformation and tactics being used are some that we would realistically see from the FBI to get their point across. You see one group of people just trying to be treated like everyone else and demanding basic human rights and a government that understands equality would lead to the FBIs demise and will do whatever it takes to stop this movement. Considering all of these characters were real people, it shows just how easy it was for the FBI to destroy lives who had different opinions. With the evolution of modern-day astroturfing, a movie like Seberg could be just as important as ever as it once again shows us why we need to fight for the rights of others. Aided by a strong, captivating performance by Stewart, Seberg isn’t quite as refined as it needed to be to cover this topic, but it was well on its way at times. Stewart creates an environment of empathy and makes it so you can identify with her issues without ever having gone through them. Jean had horrible, despicable things done to her by the FBI and through Stewart’s performance we see just how atrocious this reality was for Jean. I really wish the story was more cohesive and that the conflicted FBI agent part was removed, because Seberg is very close to hitting its mark. Andrews is known more for his successful career directing in theater, so it’s natural to think that he may miss the mark in film every once in a while. He had all the right ideas, but unfortunately he just can’t bring them together in an otherwise impressive movie. Had someone more experienced directed this movie I have no doubt it would’ve received the recognition it strove for, but Seberg needed to work out its story issues before coming to our screens.
Overall, Seberg has value in many important areas, but Andrews just can’t get these elements to work together in a way that makes this movie as impactful as intended. Stewart will find a role that fits her skill set and gets her some major nominations, but unfortunately this attempt didn’t quite work out for her. More roles like this and less like Charlie’s Angels will benefit her, as she carries Seberg for almost all of the 102 minute runtime and makes it a very respectable movie.
Overall Score: 5.5/10