A conscious artist wants to make a difference in the world. Though society considers them mere entertainers, an artist yearns to be a part of the revolution. American actress Jean Seberg engaged with the Black Panther Party in her desire to be part of the black revolution. Seberg, Benedict Andrews’ biographical film, depicts the backlash she received for supporting the American Africans.
The film says a lot about what the government and its top institutions can do to silence a vocal citizen. They don’t want any activist, or an artist, or any person, for that matter, to raise a voice against their flaws. Though the countries call them “democracies,” they are no better than dictators. They don’t want a conversation because they cannot handle an argument.
Kristen Stewart, who plays Jean Seberg in the film, gives the performance of a lifetime. She is incredibly realistic in her approach, and her performance as a paranoid artist is emotionally moving.
‘Seberg’ Plot Summary
Jean Seberg achieved extraordinary success by playing Patricia Franchini in Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece, Breathless. As Godard’s film marked the arrival of the French New Wave cinema, Jean yearned for more challenging roles like Patricia. However, all she was offered in America were musicals and westerns.
As the film begins, Jean (Kristen Stewart) asks her husband, Romain, to accompany her to L.A. to audition for a new role in a film. Romain refuses due to increasing racial tension in America. Unhappy with her emotionally distant husband, Jean leaves him alone.
On the flight, Jean encounters Hakim Abdullah Jamal (Anthony Mackie), a black activist and a member of the Black Panther Party. Hakim barges into the first class and captivates the attention of Jean Seberg. As the flight lands in L.A., Jean stands with the Black Panther protests to show her solidarity with the revolutionaries and her interest in Hakim.
Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell), recruited by the FBI to surveil Hakim, believes that Jean sympathizes with BPP to gain publicity. However, later that night, Jean discovers that Hakim has left his address on her script and quickly drives to meet him. Jack and his partner, Carl Kowalski, keeping an eye on Hakim, spot Jean and report her presence to FBI director John Edgar Hoover.
Under the FBI’s COINTELPRO surveillance program, Jack and Carl get approval to bug and shadow Jean’s daily activities. As the intimacy between Hakim and Jean blooms, the FBI suspects that she is instrumental in promoting BPP propaganda. Thus, Hoover orders the FBI to neutralize Jean.
How did the FBI destroy Jean’s life?
Jack and Carl had already bugged Hakim’s house when Jean visited him for the first time. They recorded the couple’s intimate interactions and exposed them. When Hakim’s wife, Dorothy, discovered her husband’s affair with Jean, she threatened Jean to stay away from Hakim. Another BPP member, Bobby Seale, blamed Hakim for sleeping with a white woman, and because of party pressure, Hakim broke all ties with Jean.
In the last conversation, Hakim told Jean that the FBI had bugged their houses. As the revelations hit Jean, she became extremely paranoid and searched for microphones in her house. In the process, Jean lost mental and emotional stability, probably because in the moment of dire need, she had no one to fall back on. After the news of her affair with Hakim broke out, she lost both Hakim and Romain Gary.
But the FBI didn’t stop here. One of the FBI agents killed Jean’s dog in October 1969 in New York while trying to bug her hotel room.
In 1970, Carl Kowalski found out that Jean was pregnant and thus spread a rumor that she had Hakim’s child. The FBI wanted to cheapen Jean’s image in the public’s eyes, but their stance almost killed her. To end her miseries, Jean tried to attempt suicide and lost her unborn girl. A man of conscience, Jack Solomon felt guilty for the death of an innocent baby and decided to give closure to Jean in the best possible way.
‘Seberg’ Ending, Explained
Amid increasing racial tension, Jack didn’t want to take sides. However, he was certain that what the FBI was doing with Jean Seberg was not morally right. Hence, after the 1969 incident, he anonymously called Jean in a restaurant in New York. Jack demanded that Jean cease her financial contributions and public support for the Black Panther Party or “they” would continue to threaten her. Jean knew that helping revolutionaries was not a crime and thus decided to continue her support for the BPP.
The FBI retaliated by spreading false rumors about Jean to demean her in public. After Jean lost her two-day-old daughter, Nina Hart Gary, she decided to sue the vicious newspaper that published speculative news to defame her and protect their flawed government. Jean’s speech moved Jack, and he listened to her recorded conversations again. After a transformative change in her character, Jack decided to give closure to Jean’s fight against the government. He believed that she deserved to know the truth.
Jack stole Jean’s file from the FBI locker and showed it to Jean. The attack on her privacy made Jean sick, but she was helpless like every other country citizen. In the end, Jack took the file and left. After the incident, Jean left Hollywood and settled in Paris, where she supported the BPP’s political cause.
In 1971, activists broke into the FBI office and exposed Hoover’s illegal surveillance program, COINTELPRO. On September 8, 1979, Jean, 40, was found dead in her car after missing for ten days. Her death, which was ruled a suicide, remains a mystery, with many unresolved questions circling it.
Seberg is a 2019 biographical drama film based on the life of Jean Seberg. The film, directed by Benedict Andrews, stars Kristen Stewart in the lead role.