Syriana Stephen Gaghan

Syriana Stephen Gaghan
In a year rife with hot button political issues, writer/director Stephen Gaghan’s exploration of the interconnected financial, political and religious complexities surrounding the energy business will stand for years as a brave, insightful and heady film. It might also require years to figure out all the subtle nuances (and larger, overarching plot twists) embedded in this smart, dense, fascinating movie — rarely has there been a movie as entertaining, as informed and as fascinatingly watchable that, upon completion, you realise you only understood a portion of. It concerns a disillusioned C.I.A. agent (George Clooney), a corporate lobbyist (Matt Damon) and a government watchdog, sort of… actually, I have no idea what job Bennett Holiday does, only that he was portrayed by MVP character actor Jeffrey Wright. The underlying theme is corruption: how it lubricates the wheels of the machines required to deal with disparate political and religious players in the oil game; how it consumes the souls of people whose will is to do good but who don’t find that option on the menu; and how the economies and cultures of the Western world are defined and crippled by an addiction to oil consumption. It’s a description — along with near-universal cries that it’s hard to absorb on a single viewing — that makes Syriana seem like bitter medicine, but it’s far from it. From its well-drawn characters and insightful political perspectives (which toe neither a left nor right party line) to the skill and breadth of its storytelling, Syriana will stand with great films under-appreciated in their time. The extras don’t add that much to this DVD release (for once, a commentary would be welcome), it’s all there in the film, waiting to be discovered, explored and absorbed. Plus: "making of” featurette, George Clooney interview, deleted scenes. (Warner)