There’s enough to like in Argo to write up a seven page college essay full of sources and quotes and even a dash of humor. I’m not in college anymore so maybe we could keep this to a simple paragraph or two. What I absolutely enjoyed was the movie’s running theme about how everything we do is in someway or another a story we tell others. I think Bryan Cranston even says this at one point while he and another CIA agent are watching the hostage crisis play out on the news. All they’re doing it telling stories.
But it continues throughout. Affleck’s Mendez receives a star from the CIA and there’ll even be a ceremony he’s told; but his son can’t come because the whole operation was a secret. If he wanted a ceremony he should have joined a circus–or something or other. He doesn’t get to show his son or his wife the story that would have presented him as the strong man he truly is. (The backstory with his family is merely alluded to, but I think the picture is painted pretty clearly.) And I just loved how at the climax of the film, when the Iranian guard at the airport isn’t believing a word of this bogus movie story they’ve conjured up, one of the six Americans–I think it was Scoot McNairy’s Stafford–acts out the entire plot of the made up adventure film, using the storyboards and his own sound effects. The scene reminded me of C-3PO’s quick retelling of the entire Star Wars saga to the Ewoks in Jedi–and I don’t think that was accidental (even though this film is set before Jedi came out). If Stafford succeeds, it’s merely by stalling the Iranians a few moments longer and giving them a good romp of a tale while he’s at it, which they clearly enjoy.
It’s fitting that the film closes on Affleck reading his son a bedtime story as the camera pans over adventure toys, posters and even one Argo storyboard that he swiped before it could be locked away. It isn’t hard to imagine him telling the adventure of Argo–the fake movie–to his son. And since according to John Goodman’s Chambers the target audience is anyone with eyes, Affleck’s son should enjoy the story just fine since he gets to hear it instead of see it. The movie takes on pretty serious issues, but it’s central conflicts rests on that single question–what story are we going to tell?