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Seberg review – Kristen Stewart’s Decade-Defining Gem is Engrossing, Moving and Sumptuous

Based on the tragedy of actress Jean Seberg, Kristen Stewart stars as the titular actress, in a role that relies on Stewart’s understated subtly. Seberg premiered at the Venice Film Festival, it’s intensely engrossing and moving. The tragedy of Jean Seberg is an undeniably fascinating topic, Jean suffered under constant surveillance and exposure during the late 1960’s. Suffering for an extensive time under the FBI regime due to Seberg’s connections to aiding movements such as the Black Panthers.

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The stance that is taken is one that pity’s on Jean Seberg’s torture, but also implementing a fictional character working for the FBI, he is of decency and is able to be changed. It’s a little altering of history, it works and is a much needed contrast to Vince Vaughn’s nastily racist FBI officer. Set initially in the late 1960’s, evoking a nostalgic sense of warmth, it’s filmed with beauty. There is something quite poetic to the images relating to the innocence of Jean, visually it tracks along the breakdown of her mind and soul.

Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) in the 1960’s found popularity and success in France, after the success of Jean Luc-Godard’s Breathless. Seberg and her Parisian husband (Yvan Attal) live in Paris and part time of the time in Hollywood, Los Angeles. It focuses on the period in which she publicly funded and supported the Black Panthers, through an encounter with activist Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie).

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Seberg is a meditative film of brilliance. It’s beautifully shot, carefully tuned and Kristen Stewart gives a understated and sometimes explosive performance. Stewart is utterly perfect for the role, it’s her defining film of the decade. What Stewart is able to convey through action is rather mesmerising, performed with a sheer sense of the heart-felt, love and heart-wrench. It’s all in her eyes and movement, it says so much more than the spoken.

Director Benedict Andrews and cinematographer Rachel Morrison develop an encapsulating feel of warmth and beauty that honestly left me quite speechless. The use of colour and lighting really pulls off that 60’s sensibility, it’s all in the blossoming blues, warm yellows and luscious greens. Morrison really impressed me, her work here is very different from Mudbound and Black Panther. Quite frankly, the work done in Black Panther was not impressive and seeing her improvement within this film warms my heart. Some sincerely breathtaking images are captured.

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Seberg owes an ode to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation in the FBI-surveillance side of things. The agents spy in on Stewart’s Jean Seberg, at one point a character alters the frequency and levels to interpret a very muffle piece of audio. It’s basically the same as the core outer notion seen within Coppola’s film. Whilst Seberg has depth and underlying intrigue to the reasoning’s and the portrayal of the story, it doesn’t hold up to the standard of spectatorial mastery of The Conversation. However, that isn’t the core of the film, that is the outer rim of intrigue. The real centre piece is Stewart, Jean is the beating heart of the film.

4/5 Stars ★★★★☆

Ben Rolph

SEBERG is out in UK Cinemas NOW

FOLLOW WRITER BEN ROLPH ON TWITTER: @THEDCTVSHOW

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