Robert Downey Jr. in Uneven HBO Adaptation – Entertainment News (Trending Perfect)


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

This will be the latest coronation in a year of coronations for a star who is undisputedly one of our best stars, and it will be difficult to begrudge him. What Downey does Sympathizer It hits that sweet spot between “ridiculously entertaining” and “too much acting” that awards presenters love.


Bottom line

Downey is a double-edged sword.

Offer date: 9 p.m. Sunday, April 14 (HBO)
ejaculate: Hoa Xuandy, Fred Nguyen Khanh, Tuan Le, Fanxin, Fei Le, Ky Duyen, Que Chinh, Duy Nguyen, Alan Truong, Sandra Oh and Robert Downey Jr.
Creators: Park Chan Wuc and Don McKellar, from the book by Viet Thanh Nguyen

But there are two things that could be right: Downey's performance in Sympathizer It may be hailed as a masterful work of theatrical gymnastics. At the same time, it's the misplaced fulcrum that frequently causes this seven-episode adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to lose its linguistic and narrative balance.

This version of Sympathizer It remains topical and bold, a slab of irony and profound human tragedy worthy of conversation and consideration, even if consideration leads to the conclusion that the kitchen-sink approach that worked on the page struggles to coalesce on screen.

Created for HBO by Park Chan-wook (The decision to leave) and Don McKellar, Sympathizer It actually stars Hoa Xuande as the unnamed narrator known only as The Captain. The story is told through the confession of a captain in a Vietnamese re-education camp. It has been several years since the end of the war, where he has served as an aide to the famous, if largely ineffective, South Vietnamese General Tuan Le, while simultaneously 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 community of Vietnamese exiles in Los Angeles, from the airport tarmac on the eve of the fall of Saigon to the smug halls of academia to the chaotic set of a Hollywood war movie.

It is a story of dualities. The Captain is torn between the two sides of racial identity (his mother is Vietnamese, his father is European) that ensure his status as “other” no matter where he is—a “bastard” or “half-breed” in Vietnam and a man of mystery. “Eastern” in the United States. He is a devoted communist with a passionate appetite for American popular culture. He has two best friends – Mann (Duy Nguyen), his Northern counterintelligence handler, and Bon (Fred Nguyen Khanh), driven by personal tragedies to be a fierce soldier for the South.

In a world where everything around him exists in binary form, the Captain exists in grey, changing his recollection of events depending on his audience and making us completely complicit in the ruse. His identity is completely replaceable, with no underlying ideology or personality remaining. He's torn between houses, between memories of past and present, and, of course, between women – the acerbic Dame Sophia Mori (a very funny Sandra Oh) and the bewildering distraction of the general's daughter, Lana (newcomer Faye Lo).

He is, by design, one of the most frustrating heroes you'll ever encounter, and the series' directors — Park, Fernando Meirelles, and Mark Munden — capture those self-aware qualities in their storytelling with bits of cinematic grammar. He can rewind his story like a VHS tape, and he admits as much when he recounts parts of the narrative in which he wasn't present, and the epilogue is such a specific exploration of the challenges of finding closure that the Captain laments, “Why do I have this ominous feeling that the reviews aren't going to be good?

Ooops. I haven't mentioned Robert Downey Jr. in a while, have you? (Cue the rewind sound effect.) Downey, who is also an executive producer, plays five characters, including suspicious CIA agent Claude, mad author Nikos, and the Captain's charismatic graduate school teacher Professor Hammer. On the page, they're one-dimensional data points in Captain Shreddy's saga, but here, under Downey's masked watch, they come together to create Voltron out of average white guys, united by their desire to exploit the Captain in different capacities. Colonizing his identity just as the Europeans colonized his homeland.

In theory, it's an acrobatic stunt, achieved through comedic-leaning hair and makeup that screams: “Look, it's Robert Downey Jr. again!” It's also borderline great insofar as this show weaves in characters from the Captain's perspective, which is a clear reversal of the “they're all the same to me” stereotype. But the trick becomes the story, and the satirical bent becomes the story Catch 22 to Dr. Strangelove. All of which leaves Xuande, doing some wonderfully subtle things to convey his understanding of a man who doesn't know himself, who is often outdone by Downey's wigs, latex props and sound effects, which sound, perhaps intentionally, like Richard Nixon over the years.

There are more of these five characters in the miniseries than in the novel – or at least there seems to be more of them – resulting in less character for the Captain and less character for Boone and the General (Khan and Lou are also excellent). When the satire-to-drama ratio rises from roughly 50/50 to 20/80 in the closing episodes, it feels like we don't get enough time with our conflicted hero.

Being outdone on stage is always a risk in any story where the main character is an engaging chameleon. Absorption is the Captain's superpower, until assimilation begins to destroy him, and Xuande captures that feeling of invisibility perfectly. But the show around him tends to overcompensate, just in case I don't find The Captain great.

When Park is behind the camera (for three episodes), the series is comically aberrant in many of his trademark ways. The director has his own obsession with doubles, with people hiding things from each other and from themselves, and he knows the power of strange camera placements, delightful bits of convincing editing, or colors that pop in unexpected ways. When other directors take over, the series becomes less visually distinct and much less original. At least the film's behind-the-scenes episode, directed by Meirelles — the best executed among the ambitious scenes from Nguyen's highly cinematic novel — has a great deal of style, even if the overall approach and Downey's presence make it a little darker. , less hilarious Tropical thunder Companion piece.

There is nothing wrong with that, nor with going for more Dr. Strangelove from Catch 22. There was no episode of Sympathizer Not only does it generate some laughs and some punches, but as the story moves toward its big climax and having to leave Robert Downey Jr.'s costume party behind, the series it's trying to resolve doesn't always feel like it just spent the previous six episodes trying to be one. It's an identity crisis that's thematically appropriate, if not entirely satisfying to watch.



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