Author(s): Kieran Scarlett
Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Cinematography by Robert Elswit
Edited by Dylan Tichenor
Music by Jon Brion
Jeffrey Wright as Ivan Somerset
Ellen Page as Tenacity Hargrove
Edward Norton as Thomas Jacoby
Amy Ryan as Lynn Jacoby
Ryan Simpkins as Crystal Jacoby
Clifton Collins Jr as Nicholas Randone
Tagline: "Pray for the lost people.."
Synopsis: Ivan Somerset (Wright), a renowned religious studies professor at Yale University has been fired amidst suspicion of his deteriorating mental health following very controversial statements he made regarding the state of organized faith in the world. His recently published books denounce all religions, especially Abrahamic faiths, and preaches a series of tenets by which to live and grow, known simply as "The Way." He soon develops a devout following greater than he ever imagined as men, women and children, all lost and aimless in their lives, begin to flock to him in droves, prepared to do as he preaches...
Tenacity Hargrove (Page) is a young singer/actress whose personal troubles are constantly under a microscope. Feeling adrift in the world of empty, meaningless fame, she nearly hits rock bottom until she stumbles upon Somerset's teachings and becomes one of his biggest followers, much to the dismay of her manager Nicholas (Clifton Collins Jr.) The teachings of "The Way" begin to affect Tenacity in ways she could have never foreseen, as she soon finds herself completely submissive and obedient to Ivan Somerset...
Thomas Jacoby (Edward Norton), a naïve, but troubled Congressman is dealing with a very nasty and public divorce with his wife Lynn (Amy Ryan), who is falsely accusing him of infidelity. Trying desperately to recover his public image, Jacoby turns his attention to putting a stop to Ivan Somerset and followers of "The Way," who are being linked to kidnapping, extortion and violent crimes. He is relentless in his desire to take down Somerset, trying to prosecute him and stop the group, who seek tax exempt status as an official religion. His pursuit of Ivan Somerset leads him down a dangerous road, with very dire consequences...
Cloth is a criss-crossing narrative that examines the cult mentality, and how it is dangerously and irreversibly set into motion. The film follows these three characters as they encounter one another, from Connecticut, to California, and eventually to the deserts of Mexico, where Ivan Somerset and his followers relocate, leading to a shocking and tragic conclusion.
What the Press would say:
Paul Thomas Anderson's new movie Cloth is a look into the hope that religion often offers people, and the corruption of that hope by a select few. The film is no doubt polarizing in the way that it presents these ideas, but ultimately feels evenhanded. It is not an attack on organized religion, rather an examination of the fallibility of humans, especially those in power. Anderson's screenplay and direction expertly frame Somerset and Jacoby as two of the same—men mad with power and driven by the notion that each is right and moral. Anderson directs this ensemble with skill and precision that rivals some of his best work.
Much of the film's success can be attributed to character actor Jeffrey Wright, who amazes with his note-perfect characterization of cult leader Ivan Somerset. In a performance that could have so easily been loud and showy, Wright plays it quiet and understated, never getting it wrong and fully in control of his gift. Wright will go down with Daniel Day-Lewis as yet another great performance expertly directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. He is the winner of this year's Oscar for best actor, if there is any justice.
Even more surprising is Ellen Page, who quells any doubts about her range by stepping so wholly and effectively out of her comfort zone to play a troubled young starlet who couldn't be further from herself. You feel every inch of her sadness and her imprisonment, never doubting her motivation as she makes one unwise decision after another. And last, but definitely not least, there is Edward Norton, who reduces Thomas Jacoby to pure intensity and determination in what may well be the actor's finest performance to date. He makes you feel for an often-times detestable and maddening character, making the film's final act all the more heartbreaking.
The cinematography by Robert Elswit is top-notch, as is Jon Brion's haunting and repetitive score. There will be much talk and controversy regarding the similarities between the events portrayed here, and the Jonestown Massacre. However, Anderson never denies that his film is a composite of his observations and research about cult activity around the world. This is one of the year's best films, and will certainly be a best picture nominee.
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Jeffrey Wright
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Edward Norton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Ellen Page
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson
Best Original Score: Jon Brion
Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Best Achievement in Editing: Dylan Tichenor