Review written on: December 9th, 2005

Syriana Review

Syriana is the latest from Steven Gaghan (Academy Award winning writer of Traffic) and for me did very little to disappoint. A fine cast, an important topic, and a plot that is both gripping and cerebral.

The ?main character? is a bit of a loose term in this movie, but the undercover CIA agent (George Clooney) is one of the more important and ongoing characters in the movie. His job that has been so good to him begins to fall apart, and he begins to understand disquieting truths about the government he works for. A young energy consultant and oil broker (Matt Damon) has his family taken in to the world of Middle Eastern politics, as a Washington D.C. lawyer (Jeffrey Wright) reluctantly preserves a warped merger between oil companies.

Amongst the personalities portrayed is that of a young Pakistani man struggling for work, and more profoundly for meaning in life. Gaghan presents it beautifully; in a very authentic and compassionate way. It was perhaps my favorite sub-plot of the movie, being stimulated intellectually and confused emotionally.

The film follows many stories and many characters, and for this reason took a little more time than usual to gather steam. Once the story gets going though, it is hard not to be interested, and as the cinematic design comes into focus it becomes clear that this is not a movie that shows a beginning and an end. Instead, the film offers a glimpse into a period of time, simultaneously intriguing and tragic for the characters involved. My point being that there is climax, but perhaps not the amount of closure we?re used to from Hollywood. If there is a moral, it is stretched very thin, and appears through the characters rather than the story.

This is a great movie to watch for your intellect; but a difficult one for your heart. It is a truly political film that is not meant to thrill or make you laugh. If you like political intrigue and don?t mind subtitles, I would say this is the movie for you.


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