By Mr. Will Wong
Set in the ’60s against a backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, SEBERG hones-in on Actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart), who lent her financial support to groups like the Black Panthers and the NAACP. Catching-onto this, the FBI targeted her as part of their COINTELPRO Program led by Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell), spying-on, harassing and discrediting her. Above this, false information was dispersed about her bearing the child of African-American Activist, Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie) before she prematurely delivered and subsequently lost her child. The Film focuses on Seberg‘s unravelling and deteriorating mental health as a a result of the FBI‘s aggressive pursuit of her.
Directed by Benedict Andrews (Una), Seberg gives us a sympathetic portrait of an Actress who in the name of doing what she felt was right, was wronged by corruption and racism, never standing a chance. Stewart delivers a top-shelf performance navigating Seberg‘s cool starlet demanour and what turns-out to be a founded paranoia. She handles with Seberg‘s torment and defeat with great sensitivity and this is the greatest thing about the Film.
What Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse‘s Script doesn’t quite capture as well is why Seberg is so steadfast in her beliefs, establishing what it meant of her to embark on what becomes an all-consuming psychological rollercoaster ride. Nor do we get a real sense what was in it for the FBI to destroy their target. O’Connell breathes humanity into Solomon and the enticingly-styled Film captures his own moral struggle between carrying-out his job responsibilities and what is right with his partner Linette (Margaret Qualley) helping steer him on that path.
SEBERG certainly has a curious allure to it which keeps us invested start to finish, despite missing some key elements that could have made it a truly compelling story.
Pacific Northwest Pictures release SEBERG opens February 28, 2020, in Toronto at the Carlton Cinema (20 Carlton Street). It rolls out on March 6, 2020, to Calgary at the Globe Cinema (617 8 Avenue SW), followed by the ByTowne Cinema in Ottawa (325 Rideau Street) on March 27, 2020, with more cities to be added in the coming weeks.