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(Review originally written at 4 September 2006)

No doubt that "Syriana" is a difficult movie to watch. You have to keep paying attention at every moment in the movie if you don't want to lose track of things. But those who have the patience and will to keep watching this movie will be rewarded with a thought provoking and effective movie that will leave you thinking afterward.

Best thing about this movie is that it basically follows four different plot lines and characters but it really doesn't feel like four separate and different stories at all. The movie feels as a complete whole and is consistent during its entire running time. All the stories have one thing in common, they are more or less about one and the same subject; oil. This might be the reason why the movie feels like one. The movie is called "Traffic"-'light' for a good reason. It's made in the same style and terms of realistic storytelling- and character treatment. No wonder, the movie is directed by Stephen Gaghan who wrote "Traffic" and one of the executive producers on this movie is Steven Soderbergh, who directed "Traffic". It sort of sounds strange to call this movie a 'light' version of "Traffic", since this movie in my opinion is far more complex (even though it focuses on far less character and plot lines) and focuses on a even more difficult and delicate subject.

"Traffic" taught us that the war on drugs can't be won, "Syriana" shows us that the lust for oil can never be stopped and the movie shows the direct consequences of it. The movie is about the Western and mostly American corruption and naivety. The movie shows how this affects the Middle-East and its population and how that more or less directly hits back at the Western world. It's a sort of vicious circle. We want more and more oil for lower prices but we eventually pay a far higher price than just money for it.

Kudos to Stephen Gaghan and the rest of the cast & crew to have to guts to make such a politically sensitive but relevant movie.

The movie gets carried by its excellently playing cast. This probably the best role of George Clooney I have ever seen him in. He deserved his Oscar for this movie, even though his role was far smaller than I expected. Matt Damon might be a bit out of place in this movie. I don't regard him as 'mature' enough yet to play such heavy and serious roles. I would had preferred an older or a totally unknown actor for his role. Among the supporting cast are Christopher Plummer, Amanda Peet, the always great Chris Cooper, William Hurt and Tim Blake Nelson. Not all of their roles seem relevant enough but nevertheless their presence still adds to the class of this movie.

A sort of an essential movie to watch, at least if you're open for a complex but confronting and direct movie, about a sensitive and not much lighted subject.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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