- Allan Hunter
- 6 January 2020
Kristen Stewart is the eponymous movie star in this flawed but well-performed biopic
The landmark success of Godard's Breathless saw Jean Seberg anointed as the American poster girl of the French New Wave. It was a spectacular reinvention following the mixed fortunes of her teenage discovery and early Hollywood roles. Directed by Benedict Andrews (Una), Seberg is not too concerned with her rise, focusing instead on a fall from grace engineered by the FBI as punishment for her support of radical causes.
Seberg tries to cover a lot of ground and can be trite but it does offer a tangy, noir-like immersion in a similar period to Tarantino's Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. It begins in 1968 as Seberg (Kristen Stewart) leaves Paris to return to America and film Paint Your Wagon. On the flight, she meets black activist Hakim Abdullah Jamal (Anthony Mackie). Her sympathy for his cause and personal attraction to him catches the attention of the FBI.
Seberg is quietly chilling in its depiction of the way an individual's beliefs can so readily lead to them being branded an enemy of the people. Stewart's eternally chic, pixie-like Jean is a naive innocent but heartfelt in her sense of an America riven with inequality and injustice. For some, a high-profile white movie star supporting the NAACP and the Black Panthers and tumbling into an interracial relationship might as well be setting fire to the stars and stripes. A decision is made to keep her under constant surveillance, tarnish her reputation and destroy her career.
Stewart poignantly captures Seberg's unravelling as paranoia takes hold and the world inexplicably turns against her. Vince Vaughn gleefully embodies the FBI's macho culture as vindictive agent Carl Kowalski and Jack O'Connell convinces as conscience-stricken new recruit Jack Solomon, who becomes increasingly protective of a woman who never stood a chance.
General release from Fri 10 Jan.