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76th Venice Film Festival: Seberg Movie Review

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76th Venice Film Festival: Seberg Movie Review

Seberg Movie Review

Kristen Stewart stars in director Benedict Andrews’ biographical thriller, ‘Seberg.’

Title: Seberg

Director: Benedict Andrews

Cast: Kristin Stewart, Anthony Mackie, Jack O’Connell, Margaret Qualley, Zazie Beetz, Yvan Attal, Stephen Root, Colm Meaney, Vince Vaughn, Anthony Mackie.

Seberg, directed by Benedict Andrews and presented at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, is inspired by the real events about actress Jean Seberg, who in the late 1960s was targeted by Hoover’s FBI because of her political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal. 

Those who are fond of the French New Wave, will remember how À bout de souffle (Breathless) consecrated the American actress for the way she redefined onscreen presence. Her ubiety in the real world was just as substantial, for her commitment and support to socially relevant causes.

The film opens with Jean Seberg (Kristin Stewart) who is already an icon, although stardom has failed to satisfy her analytical sensitivity. As a life-long supporter of the civil rights movement, an apparently random encounter between Seberg and the activist of the the Black power movement Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), turns into an affair despite both of them are married. This liaison, as well as Jean’s financial support of various civil rights groups, makes her a target of COINTELPRO, a covert FBI surveillance operation aimed at disrupting political organizations. The new FBI recruit Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell), is assigned to join the L.A. field office and is teamed up with a more senior agent, Carl Kowalski (Vince Vaughn), to wiretap Hakim’s home and Jean’s residences, to document the couple’s affair and expose her financial contributions to the movement. Jack becomes her shadow, maintaining round- the-clock surveillance, and is drawn in by Jean’s luminous presence, ultimately testing his loyalty to his young wife (Margaret Qualley). 

Australian director Benedict Andrews, adopts a thriller approach with some flair of noire, to  unleash a political intrigue, woven around the real life of Jean Seberg and her involvement with the Black Power movement. This is not a conventional biopic about her life, but a thorough dissection of what happened to Seberg between 1968 and 1971. Kristen Stewart does a terrific job in bringing Jean Seberg to life. We see the nervous breakdown of an established film star who starts perceiving that her life is being controlled, but no one believes her claims. Neurosis takes over as she becomes the victim of persecution from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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