Coming soon from Amazon Original to Prime Video from director Benedict Andrews is the story of an actress who did not go with the grain named SEBERG.
It is the 1960s and hot off her success in director Otto Preminger’s film Saint Joan actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) finds equal success in the Jean-Luc Godard’s film Breathless. Returning to Hollywood preparing for an audition for the next film from her home in France, she says goodbye to a young son Diego (Gabriel Sky) and husband Romain Gary (Yvan Attal).
On the plane she sees a vocal skirmish between the flight attendant and Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie). Getting off her plane she notices the group of civil rights leaders speaking to the press. She takes a moment to join the group raising her fist to symbolize black power and the press is there to take photos of it all.
Instantly taking notice of Jean at the airport are two FBI investigators, Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell) and Carl Kowalski (Vince Vaughn) with photos of their own that start an investigation into her activities. Jack can’t discuss what he is doing with medical student wife Linette (Margaret Qualley) who doesn’t fit in with the FBI wives.
Jack and Carl begin surveillance on Jean sneaking into her home and bugging it. It doesn’t take long before they see and hear that Seberg starts an affair with the married Jamal. Wanting to find a way to make it work to their advantage, Jean refuses to stop associating or giving financial support to those working in the civil rights movement.
Jack realizes that as the investigation goes deeper, that Jean begins to show signs of stress fearing that she is being watched and listened in on in every aspect of her life. It continues for years as the COINTELPRO agents continue to create untrue stories about her to the point of despair.
This is a story of a time where only one rumor needs to be believed to ruin someone’s life.
Stewart as Seberg does an excellent job of portraying a woman who was living the life of a star without realizing that it only takes one thing to set her world on fire. A once vibrant woman is put through a ringer that takes away the light Hollywood once saw in her. Stewart portrays that from the very beginning to the very end. Her performance is one that I won’t soon forget, well done.
O’Connell as Jack is a man dedicated to his job but also sees that after time what they are doing to Seberg becomes brutal and unnecessary. O’Connell’s character brings moments of sanity to an FBI doing insane things, especially by some of the others in the group. It is a solid performance and I cheered him at one point and so will you.
Vaughn as Kowalski is pretty much a vicious human being who has no problem being vocal about what everyone else in America is doing wrong. He feels it is his job to destroy anything that gets in the way of being a good American. He treatment of his own family is a perfect example of the unhinged attitude. Mackie as Jamal is taken with Seberg and does not think about the repercussions of his actions in the moment, but it becomes clear that he is surrounded by others who are not about to take what he is doing lightly. The relationship goes against what his group believes in every way.
Attal as Gary is a husband who isn’t about to make a scene learning that Jean is putting herself in danger. Trying to support her fears of surveillance, a decision must be made and it is not an easy one. Qualley as Linette is a wife who doesn’t fit into the stereotype of what an FBI wife should be. Learning that Seberg is the person her husband is investigating brings her own questions about his work. I was happy with Qualley’s moxy!
Other cast include Colm Meaney as Frank Ellroy, Zazie Beetz as Dorothy Jamal, Jade Pettyjohn as Jenny Kowalski, Ser’Darius Blain as Louis Lewis, James Jordan as Roy Maddow, Stephen Root as Walt Breckman, Celeste Pechous as Betsy Ellroy and Laura Campell as Mary Kowalski.
Amazon Prime offers television shows and original content included in its Amazon Prime subscription. Original programs such as CARNIVAL ROW, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL are hit shows. Coming soon is the next series with GOLIATH starring Billy Bob Thornton and it promises to another successful and intense series.
SEBERG is a sad story of a life that is plagued in a time where nothing was off the table in the ways of the FBI. If a behavior was found un-American then the group found ways to destroy a person through surveillance, rumor, inuendo and using the press to do their dirty work. It was a time of intolerance in secret.
Jean Seberg may have looked like she had everything together on the outside (which is the goal of being a Hollywood starlet), but her personal life became a shamble. Filled with failed affairs, relationships, and marriages, it is not surprise that her death would be as mysterious as she was.
The cast of SEBERG truly bring her story together in 102-minute time and done so extremely well. The cinematography, sets and costuming lend itself to luring the viewer into the 1960s. Stewart’s performance tie it all together beautifully.
In the end – actress, activist and adversary!