Carlos (Olivier Assayas – 2010) A

The IMDB description for this is “The story of Venezuelan revolutionary Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, who founded a worldwide terrorist organization and raided the 1975 OPEC meeting”….well it is one way to summarize a 6 hour or so epic. This is a long spanning tour de force by the lead (Edgar Ramirez) who does an exceptional job portraying this real-life figure of Carlos. He plays him fit, fat, drunk, menacing, charming. It’s like a mix of James Bond, Che Guevara and a Hollywood star. At no moment is Carlos likable though. That is fine. Assayas again delivers confident direction as we span decades in history and locales. His colors are bright, dark and washed at times. He uses real-life documentary footage interlaced with the film’s runtime. With that direction and a series of excellent performances in multiple languages we get the antitheses of my dreaded “biopic”. We get a slice of history told from a certain point of view about a certain hugely flawed individual. It’s my favorite type of “biopic”. It does not distill anyone’s life to 90 minutes. It gives context and gets us to know characters through a defining period of their life.

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