Masked and Anonymous

Director: Larry Charles
Screenwriters: Rene Fontaine, Sergy Petrov

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Masked and Anonymous possesses such creative audacity, such a flow of ideas and provoking observations, transported by a barrage of wit, performance, and, of course, song, that you are bound to emerge from this singular film feeling both challenged and satisfied.

Given the credentials of its architects, Larry Charles of Seinfeld and Bob Dylan, perhaps this is to be expected. But expectations are exactly what this extravagant political satire constantly overturns. At turns adventurous, playful, theatrical, and serious, this inspired combination of commentary and comedy is to be congratulated for what it accomplishes as much as the indulgence it avoids.

Set somewhere, sometime, in a unnamed country, torn by civil war with unclear battle lines or ideology, Masked and Anonymous tells the story of a "benefit concert." Impressario Uncle Sweetheart (John Goodman) is scheming to find a headliner for this event whose purpose is unclear and whose charity is its promoter's pockets. Nina Veronica (Jessica Lange) is the veteran TV producer whose job it is to make the concert the international spectacle which it can never be. And when Sweetheart manages to get the iconic cult star Jack Fate (Dylan, in a wonderfully taciturn performance) released from prison, the stage is set for tumult. Jeff Bridges as the cynical investigative reporter, Penelope Cruz as his girlfriend, Luke Wilson as the devoted acolyte, and a sundry cast of supporting characters give this imaginative allegory its energy and spirit. Masked and Anonymous is part cartoon, part deconstruction, and all creative vision.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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