While Wright's determination not be be a victim of the system is laudable, there's a distinct sense that she's happy to blame everyone else for her purportedly ailing career. A complicated personal history is condensed into general platitudes and each character has the tendency to speak in long monologues, like an endless stream of exposition punctuated with stilted dialogue. Many of the arguments are valid, but they're delivered with such clumsy, preachy condescension that any satirical edge is lost. There's raw anger in these moments, but Folman and Wright deflect it, preferring to constantly look outwards rather than inwards.
The best Hollywood exposés need self-awareness to resonate, but this is a quality sorely lacking in The Congress. Though indulgent and self-aggrandising, there is at least some sharp focus on the treatment of ageing in Hollywood in the film's initial stages. The middle section's subsequent shift into the animated world also brings an impressive level of formal audacity to the proceedings, but it becomes thematically muddy with its attempt to marry the earlier themes to broader, fuzzier sci-fi notions. The garish colours may seem daring, but they're simply concealing a hollow shell; sound and fury in lieu of purpose.
The 57th London Film Festival takes place from 9-20 October, 2013. For more of our coverage, simply follow this link.