VIPER CLUB – A Review by Cynthia Flores

VIPER CLUB – A Review by Cynthia Flores
The worst fears of families of war correspondent journalists and aid workers are played out in this tense new drama called Viper Club.  The title refers to a private community or “club” of independent journalists and advocates that help each other out when trouble happens.  Because they’re freelancers, they don’t have the backing of a big affiliated news company that has security teams and the clout to keep their people as safe as a person can be in a war zone.  Instead, they have each other to share information and to help their families back home.
In this hostage drama, we see single mother Helen (Susan Sarandon), a veteran emergency room nurse, who secretly struggles to free her kidnapped journalist grown son Andy (Julian Morris) from a terrorist group in the Middle East.  The FBI has told her not to tell anyone about his capture, and they are moving at a glacier's pace to free him.  She is drowning in the paperwork, bureaucracy, and silence that the Feds have put upon her.  When the kidnappers finally make contact with her, they ask for twenty million dollars, a price way beyond her means. 
Her son's girlfriend Amy (Lola Kirke) and his best friend Sam (Matt Bomer), both war journalists are the ones who reach out to her from the Viper Club.  They are the ones that urge her to break her silence and make a public plea to the kidnappers to not harm her son.  Putting her into the spotlight to bring pressure on the government to do something.
Once she’s working with the club, Charlotte (Edie Falco), a very wealthy woman who got her own son back from kidnapping terrorists becomes her guide through the process.  Because it’s a federal crime to give money to foreign terrorists, all of the cash raised from advocates of a free press and philanthropists that support the cause or are moved by Helens’ plea must be funneled through legal foundations.  Helen finally has hope that her son will be returned and that she is not in this alone.
This is the second feature film from writer/director Maryam Keshavarz and her first film in English.  She shows excellent talent both as a writer and director.  Her use of Helen remembering her son as a child intermingled with her last encounters with him as an adult is almost poetic in its scope and flow.
Viper Club is not easy to watch because Susan Sarandon brings heartbreaking power to her role and the sacrifice that families back home go through when their loved ones go into war-torn parts of the world to tell the truth of what’s happening around us.  I give this film an A rating.
Directed by Maryam Keshavarz
Written By Maryam Keshavarz, Jonathan Mastro
Rated R
Selig Rating A
Running Time 109 min
Limited Release: The Magnolia Theater, The Angelika Film Center Plano  
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Matt Bomer, Lola Kirke, Julian Morris, Edie Falco
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
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