Wednesday, March 18, 2009

RECOUNT - liberal masochism

RECOUNT is a HBO movie depicting the fateful period after the 2000 US Presidential Election. The confusing design of the ballot led Democratic voters to vote Republican, and the Gore campaign asked for a recount. The Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, effectively stopped a full recount letting the pro-Republican result stand - a decision sanctioned by the US Supreme Court. And so the world was saddled with W. To those of us with a liberal turn of mind, the result was a travesty of justice and democracy. This movie panders to those views. To our opponents, the movie will be seen as partisan and therefore rejected. 

So let's assume that only liberals have a desire to watch this film, does it deliver? No. Because Jay Roach (MEET THE FOCKERS) can't decide whether he's directing a serious political expose or a broad comedy. As expose the movie fails because it doesn't actually tell us anything we don't already know. The Gore camp played by the rules, lacked the stomach for a balls-out cat-fight for the presidency and lost. The Bush camp had better lawyers, owned the institutions in Florida, and triumphed. Re-heating the debacle is just pure masochism. Sure, Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary as Gore campaigners do their best to look horrified by the lack of commitment on the part of their bosses and the evil machinations of the GOP, but seriously, what do we learn? 

Worse still, the broad comedy undermines the seriousness of the issues, and is, in fact, unnecessary. Katherine Graham is ludicrous enough without Laura Dern's caricature, and Tom Wilkinson's James Baker is a pantomime villain. The real truth of the recount is horrifying enough without camping it up.

Overall then, as someone who loves politics and thinks of herself as a liberal, I was sorely disappointed by this movie. I can't help but think that a more balanced documentary would've served us better.

RECOUNT is an HBO TV movie shown in 2008. It was released in the UK, Spain, Switzerland, the Philippines and Hungary last autumn and is available on DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment