Ari Folman's The Congress mixes live action with animation, a critique of Hollywood with a trippy sci-fi plot, and the real-life career of actress Robin Wright with rampant speculation about her future. It's an ambitious project that mostly succeeds — it's too long, and does fall into a few rabbit holes — and is surely the loopiest head trip at theaters this summer.
Wright portrays a version of herself: an actress in her mid-40s who can't get roles. The crass studio exec (Danny Huston) pines for the "Buttercup" of The Princess Bride. But he offers her a last-chance deal: Wright could digitize herself, and the studio would continue to make movies with that data. Reluctantly, Wright agrees.
Jump ahead a couple of decades and Wright is en route to "The Congress," located in a drug-induced dreamworld where everybody is transformed into the avatar of their choice. She is an honored guest, since her digital self has become a popular on-screen action star and avatar pick. But confronting the "reality" of this unreal world sends Wright (now animated) on a soul-searching journey — and several psychedelic trips. She must try to parse waking and dream states, life and "life," while discovering whether there is space for love in a dreamscape where everybody is pretending to be somebody else. Intriguing stuff for those willing to take the trip.