You have to watch Argo in the South as I did, in Burke County, N.C. to be exact, to feel that revisiting the hostage crisis between Iran and the United States still touches a raw nerve. Here, people came to let an old, still-nagging wound soak in cinematic brine. The film’s sharp and witty lines landed in this theatre like hail on plush carpeting. There was no sound of laughter. My fellow matinee viewers had hardly recovered from the humiliation of Vietnam when the assault on the U.S. embassy, and the parade of the helpless blindfolded American diplomats, had come. Thirty-some years later, the takeover is still a trauma of very high and personal order.
But you have to have been a witness to that history to appreciate the farcical beat at the heart of it all. Even as John Goodman and Alan Arkin’s bubbling comedic chemistry offered plenty of opportunities for guiltless laughs—those originating from cynical, self-deprecating insights—the truth, the actual history as it had occurred, was far more outrageous. A former hostage had once recalled to me that the Kalashnikov-wielding, radical Islamist teenager in charge of guarding him in solitary confinement had nearly begged him, “When you get out of here, can you help me get a visa to the US?”
DailyBeast, October 27, 2012