Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’ Walks Right Into Our Relationship with Iran

I’ve felt for a while like Ben Affleck’s real promise was going to end up in directing rather than acting, and the first trailer for Argo, his movie about a C.I.A. operation to free some of the people being held hostage in Iran by pretending to film a science-fiction flick, confirms that suspicion:

I do wish Affleck had been able to resist playing the lead role, and not only because, as Arturo Garcia pointed out, the point man on the real Argo operation was Latino, not a white dude from Boston. But the rest of the cast is stacked, whether it’s Bryan Cranston playing a similar government honcho role to the one he had in Contagion, Alan Arkin and John Goodman as mischievous Hollywood players, or Tate Donovan and Clea Duvall as hostages. And a story that’s about the importance of narrative to real-world success is just catnip for me.

But I’m curious to see how Argo will portray ordinary Iranians. Will the movie acknowledge the U.S.’s role in restoring the Shah to power? What about the spectrum of public opinion in Iran at the time? One of the real virtues of a movie like Persepolis, the adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s memoirs about growing up inside and beyond the borders of Iran, is that it’s a reminder that there’s a difference between a nation’s leadership and it’s people. Given that Argo‘s coming out at a time when American policy rhetoric around Iran has gotten heated, that’s a worthwhile thing to emphasize, and I hope the movie is smart enough to do that.