Director: Ramin Bahrani
Writer: Ramin Bahrani
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella, Lilly Singh, Martin Donovan
Ramin Bahrani’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic 1953 novel does an excellent job at capturing the tone and feel of the book, while at the same time showing how relevant it still it almost seventy years are it was published.
Set in a dystopian future after a civil war has left a dictatorship, known simply as The Ministry, in control. To maintain peace books, known as graffiti, are completely outlawed, with firemen given the task of rounding up any books and burning them. Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) is a popular and high-ranking fireman, who starts to become disillusioned with the world he lives in. Young enough not to remember life before the war, while at the same time not understanding thoughts that go through his mind. During a graffiti burning, Guy takes one of the books and starts to read it at home, unlocking a different view to the world.
Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon are beyond phenomenal in this film, both delivering powerful performances. Every time they are on screen together, it’s electric to watch. Michael Shannon plays Guy’s captain, John Beatty, and is simply perfect in the role. He’s a complicated character, who has his own questions about the world, but unlike Guy is completely loyal to The Ministry. Shannon is sinister when needed to be and has a brotherly connection with Jordan at the same time. In the same way that in the early parts of the story when Guy is more on board with the regime, he’s full of charisma and loud, while later in the story he’s more vulnerable and reserved. Their performances make the entire film.
The story itself is a classic, warning of a possible future where information is limited. The book is up there with other classic dystopian books like George Orwell’s 1984, in both influence and tone. The future presented is almost idyllic on the surface, with futuristic technology, screens, and an integrated social media where people can tune into the burnings and comment in real time. The visuals, such as with Guy’s home that’s covered in screens and projections, are stunning. It feels desirable to live like that, it’s only when you look deeper that you see the issues with the society, the limitations of information, and poverty that some people live in that the horror starts to get scary.
Fahrenheit 451 is scary in how relevant it still feels all these years later and the film presents that perfectly. It’s a completely captivating adaptation, that really holds your attention throughout. It’s when the two leads are on screen that the film really sparks up.
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