Hollywood’s strong responsiveness to American political news in a subtle blockbuster

After “Men”, an original and disturbing fantasy film, Alex Garland succeeds in an anticipatory political blockbuster directly in line with the current American political climate.

France Télévisions – Culture Editorial



Reading time: 2 min

Kirsten Dunst and Wagner Moura in "Civil War" by Alex Garland (2024).  (GSHOW/X)

Subscribed to science fiction and fantasy since Ex Machina (2015), then the excellent Men (2022), Alex Garland invests the rare terrain of political fiction in cinema in Civil War. The film, which responds to the climate of the current presidential campaign in the United States, is on screens Wednesday April 17.

The fear of a civil war in North America dates back to the origins of the New World, the site of a revolution in 1776 and a civil war from 1861 to 1865. Alex Garland updates it with intelligence and a sense of the spectacular, light of the Trump-Biden confrontation, without ever naming them, but as a metaphor for their divisions.

War photographer Lee (Kirsten Dunst) covers the civil war engulfing the United States. With her telephoto lens in focus, she travels the river of events from New York to Washington with the conviction that she is going to photograph the death of the President of the United States.

Civil War is a fantastic political fiction film such as Hollywood has not given us since perhaps Green Sun (1975), with a less universal and ideological look, but more political, in tune with the current climate. The approach of the future American presidential vote on November 5, 2024 is implicit in Civil Warbecause the words “civil war” were cited with irony in comments on the rivalry between Biden and Trump, as the polls separate the two candidates 50/50 (as of April 8, Donald Trump would only have 0, 3 points ahead of Joe Biden).

Kirsten Dunst in gold

This responsiveness of American cinema to its immediate situation is a constant in cinema across the Atlantic. It’s the same one that talked about the Vietnam War as early as Back (1978), three years after a major conflict of the 20th century. Alex Garland demonstrates political acumen and direction in Civil War. Very well written, taking us from the start into the heat of the action without explaining the causes, the feature film follows a dramatic ascent to an inventive open ending.

The film is gripping from start to finish, where Kirsten Dunst finds one of her best roles, with an accuracy that smacks of a future Oscar. The camera is as close as possible to the characters while taking into account the dimension of the issues, alternating the scales of shots with dynamism. A great film, in line with the best of American political cinema of the 1970s, with the touch of a director who is demanding in his subjects and their treatment. One of the best films since the start of the year.

The poster of "Civil War" by Alex Garland (2024).  (METROPOLITAN FILMEXPORT)

The sheet

Gender : Action, Anticipation
Director : Alex Garland
Actors: Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman
Duration : 1h49
Exit : 17 April 2024
Distributer : Metropolitan Filmexport

Synopsis: A frantic race through a fractured America which, in the near future, is more than ever on the razor’s edge.

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