Kirsten Stewart portrays the downward spiral of actress Jean Seberg as she is hounded, spied upon and humiliated by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI as part of an operation aimed at discrediting the American civil rights movements of the 1960s. Returning to the U.S. after becoming a star of French New Wave cinema, her passion for civil rights sees her drawn into the world of activist Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), a man with links to the notorious Black Panther movement. The resulting publicity leads to a level of surveillance that ultimately shocked the American public when it came to light after activists raided FBI offices in 1971.
While there is no doubting this is Stewart’s film and her performance is typically strong, it also explores the toll carrying out such intrusive activities can have on individual psyches, in particular that of a conflicted but powerless agent competently portrayed by British actor Jack O’Connell. Ultimately however, Benedict Andrews’ part biopic, part fictional drama is a somewhat superficial insight into a bleak chapter of American history.
Reviewed by Craig Coventry