Circumstances of watching it: I have had a very weird few days. I thought I was better from the annoying cold I had last week, and indeed I have no more specific cold symptoms, but I am very, very, very tired. Going into work Thursday and Friday was probably a mistake; by early afternoon I was really struggling to keep my eyes open, let alone concentrate. So Friday afternoon I came home early and spent most of the afternoon asleep. In spite of about 15 hours' sleep between Friday and Saturday, I was still dead tired on Saturday. I dragged myself to synagogue, just, as I'd promised to read the section from the prophets and to go to lunch with ploni_bat_ploni afterwards. PbP fed me ever so well and looked after me during the afternoon, and I was starting to think I might be getting my energy back.
That was until I tried walking a few hundred yards to a shopping centre. That short stroll left me falling over exhausted; I had to lean on ploni_bat_ploni to avoid collapsing in the street! She pointed out, quite rightly, that I was in no possible state to go to a party as I had planned that evening, and invited me instead to spend a quiet evening curled up in her bed watching a film.
Verdict: V for Vendetta is beautifully done if somewhat unsubtle.
Caveat: I've tried to keep spoilers out of my review, but the comment discussion is full of spoilery Mcspoiler spoilers of spoileriness
I enjoyed V for Vendetta; it's very dramatic, and it had me hooked from the opening sequence until the end. The cinematography is beautiful and the acting is top-notch. I particularly liked Rea as the police inspector, and some of the minor characters as well as the two leads. The plot is original and clever, and the major twist is impressively twisty; I really didn't see it coming.
However, I didn't like the way that the twist was followed up. Or rather, the way it wasn't; there was this amazing revelation about the central character, V, and then it's just diluted away in absolutely standard soppy Hollywood love story. The soppy stuff annoyed me partly because it was out of place; the film was a political thriller for the most part, with no real development of a romantic relationship. But mainly it annoyed me because it was used as a smoke-screen to avoid dealing with the moral implications of that central hinge of the story, so that V could continue to be framed as the hero despite his distinctly unheroic behaviour.
The other thing that annoyed me was that it was too unsubtle. I can think of many ways that a society can slip into a fascist dictatorship, but one that uses explicitly Nazi iconography seems implausible. I appreciate that it's not meant to be a realistic film, but even for the larger-than-life setting, the villains are too melodramatically evil; it's not enough that someone is a high-up official in a dictatorial regime, he has to be a paedophile as well. Similarly, a lot of the dialogue is overly explicit; nobody hints at anything, they explain the whole backstory in a kind of as-you-know-Bob way. For example, when someone is threatening another character, he describes in detail the nasty things that he intends to do if the person doesn't cooperate, and describes in detail that the victim had better do such-and-such if he doesn't want that to happen. This is a very unusual complaint for me to make, because I find films hard to follow in general, so for something to be too blatant even for me it must be really, really blatant.
Against that, there are a lot of little details that are kept in the backround, and which make it just right. For example, the brief clip of someone watching a stupid TV show where an evil Arab is torturing a screaming bimbo very subtly conveys the islamophobic aspects of the War on Terror. PbP and I argued about whether the film is right to emphasize gay people as the victims of persecution, rather than other minorities such as Muslims. I think the homophobia angle is right for the film, but there are enough instances of people being hurt by the police state that there could have been some variation. I am glad there are no Jews in the film at all though; that would really have made it too obviously "facism is bad, mmkay".
Probably the coolest thing about V for Vendetta is the way it handles the mask and the superhero theme in general. In that way it really goes against genre expectations, and Weaving's acting is absolutely superlative in the way he conveys a range of emotions without showing his face.
ploni_bat_ploni is such a great host! Yesterday involved pancakes, and a girlie shopping trip, and lots of good conversation as ever. But in spite of my best intentions I didn't set off for the lab until nearly 6 o'clock. I looked after my cells, wasn't awake enough to start any actual experiments at this point. But the weather had changed overnight with the result that I had to come home in driving snow, wearing the clothes I'd put on for 10 degrees and sunshine on Saturday. That was an unpleasant experience, to say the least.
Today I simply could not wake up, finally dragged myself out of bed at around midday, and couldn't focus enough to do even half a day's work. I'm thoroughly sick of being sick, I can tell you.