Goddamn but Kristen Stewart as doomed French New Wave icon Jean Seberg is a perfect piece of casting. With her pixie cut bob and defiantly cocked jaw, projecting a volatile combination of vulnerability and strength, moral determination and self-destructive hedonism, she’s a millimeter-fine fit for, if not the actual persona of the À bout de souffle (1960) star, then at least the idea of her, while at the same time managing to communicate something human and true through our preconceived notions of what the woman was like. It’s an act of complete commitment to the role; Stewart really is one of the best we’ve got right now, and really the legacy of her initial burst of fame thanks to the Twilight Saga is a) she’s financially secure to do interesting projects and b) anyone arcing up about her being ‘that Twilight chick’ has earmarked themselves as being safe to ignore. Really, we owe those sparkly vampires a lot.
But the subject at hand is not Twilight, but Seberg, Australian director Benedict Andrews,’ Una (2016), account of the last few years of the actor’s life, and in particular her surveillance and harassment by the F.B.I. under their anti-subversive COINTELPRO program after she became a vocal proponent and financial supporter of Civil Rights issues in the late ’60s and early ’70s.