Robert Downey Jr. in Uneven HBO Adaptation

On September 15, Robert Downey Jr. will almost certainly win his first Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series for HBO. The sympathizer.

This will be the final coronation in a year of coronations for a star who is arguably one of our best, and it will be hard to blame him; what Downey does The sympathizer hits that sweet spot between “ridiculously entertaining” and “lots of acting” that award winners love.

The sympathizer

The essential

Downey is a double-edged sword.

Broadcasting date : 9 p.m. Sunday April 14 (HBO)
Cast: Hoa Xuande, Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Phanxine, Vy Le, Ky Duyen, Kieu Chinh, Duy Nguyen, Alan Trong, Sandra Oh and Robert Downey Jr.
Creators: Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar, based on the book by Viet Thanh Nguyen

But two things may be true: Downey’s performance in The sympathizer can be hailed as a deft feat of acting gymnastics. At the same time, it’s the misplaced fulcrum that too often causes this seven-episode adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to lose its tonal and narrative balance.

This version of The sympathizer is still substantial and bold, a deeply felt slice of satire and human tragedy that deserves conversation and consideration, even if the consideration leads to the conclusion that a kitchen sink approach that worked on the page is struggling to blend into the screen.

Created for HBO by Park Chan-wook (Decision to leave) and Don McKellar, The sympathizer stars Hoa Xuande as the unnamed narrator known only as Captain. The story is told through the captain’s confessions in a Vietnamese re-education camp. This is several years after the end of the war, during which he served as aide-de-camp to a popular but largely ineffective South Vietnamese general (Toan Le), while at the same time working as a double agent for the North Vietnamese.

The captain’s confession takes us through the final days of the Vietnam War and into the exiled Vietnamese community in Los Angeles, from the tarmac on the eve of the fall of Saigon to the arrogant university halls to the chaotic setting of a Hollywood film about war.

It’s a story of dualities. The captain is torn between the facets of a biracial identity (his mother is Vietnamese, his father European) which guarantee him a status of “other”, no matter where he is: a “bastard” or a “mixed race” in the Vietnam and an enigmatic one. “Oriental” in the United States. He is a devoted communist with a passionate appetite for American popular culture. He has two best friends: Man (Duy Nguyễn), his Northern counterintelligence master, and Bon (Fred Nguyen Khan), motivated by personal tragedies to be a fierce Southern soldier.

In a world in which everything around him exists in binary form, The Captain exists in gray, shifting his memory of events to suit his audience and making us fully complicit in the subterfuge. His identity is entirely fungible, with no core ideology or personality. He is torn between houses, between flashbacks and the present and, of course, between women – the caustic Ms. Sofia Mori (a very funny Sandra Oh) and the tantalizing distraction of the general’s daughter, Lana (newcomer Vy THE).

He is, by design, one of the most frustrating heroes you’ll ever meet, and the series’ directors — Park, Fernando Meirelles, and Marc Munden — capture the self-aware qualities of his storytelling with bits of meta grammar -cinematic. He can rewind his story like a VHS tape, he recognizes it when he recounts bits of the narrative he wasn’t there for, and the finale is such a pointed exploration of the challenges of the conclusion that the Captain laments, ” Why do I have this worrying feeling that the reviews won’t be good?

Oops. I haven’t mentioned Robert Downey Jr. in a while, have I? (Cue the rewind sound effect.) Downey, also an executive producer, plays an assortment of characters, including shady CIA agent Claude, crazed author Nikos and the Captain’s Asian fetish grad school mentor, Professor Hammer. On the page, they’re one-dimensional data on the Captain’s picaresque odyssey, but here, under Downey’s disguised watch, they come together to create a Voltron of mediocre white men, united by their desire to exploit The Captain at various titles, colonize its identity as Europeans colonized its homeland.

Conceptually, it’s a stunt, accomplished through comical hair and makeup that screams, “Look, it’s Robert Downey Jr. AGAIN!” ” It’s also borderline brilliant in that it makes this parade of characters a product of the Captain’s point of view, a self-conscious reversal of the “They all look like me” stereotype. But the blow becomes the story, and the satirical inclination goes from Catch-22 has Dr Strangelove. It all leaves Xuande doing wonderfully subtle things to convey his understanding of a man who doesn’t know himself, too often overshadowed by Downey’s wigs, latex props and vocal affectations, which sound, perhaps intentionally, like Richard Nixon over the years.

There are more of these five characters in the mini-series than in the novel – or at least it feels like there are more – which makes for less of The Captain and less of Good and the General (Khan and The are also excellent). When the show goes from a roughly 50/50 satire/drama ratio to more than 20/80 in the later episodes, it feels like we haven’t spent enough time with our conflicted hero.

Downgrading is always a danger in any story in which the main character is a reactive chameleon. Assimilation is the Captain’s superpower, until assimilation begins to destroy him, and Xuande captures that feeling of invisibility perfectly. But the spectacle around it tends to overcompensate, just in case you don’t find The Captain fascinating.

When Park is behind the camera (for three episodes), the series is playfully askew in many ways. The director has his own obsessions with duality, people hiding things from each other and themselves, and he knows the power of odd camera positioning, cheeky bits of masked editing or color which appear unexpectedly. When other directors take over, the series is much less visually distinctive, much less inventive. At least the film’s behind-the-scenes episode, directed by Meirelles – the best executed of the ambitious set pieces in Nguyen’s very cinematic novel – has high style, even if the overall approach and Downey’s presence make it a darker film. , less hilarious Thunder in the tropics complementary piece.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, nor with going further Dr Strangelove that Catch-22. There was no episode of The sympathizer It didn’t provoke a few laughs or a few fist bumps, but as the story approaches its big climax and must leave Robert Downey Jr.’s costume party behind, the series it’s trying to resolve doesn’t seem like not always on the show, she just spent six previous episodes trying to be. This is a thematically appropriate, if not entirely satisfying, identity crisis to watch unfold.

Gn entert
News Source : www.hollywoodreporter.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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