Well, I watched this last night for the first time, AFTER all of the hooplah over Reagan's death and the retrospectives on his life. Given the reactions that some people have had, I was expecting a MUCH more negative portrayal of the Reagans.
Now, I'll admit, what you do see isn't pretty in many sequences. As governor, he is shown to be reactionary (which, well, he was really). As president, he is portrayed as out of touch, and rather doddering in his second term. Throughout the film, Reagan is portrayed as easily manipulated, prone to delegating as much as possible, and as not wanting to take on quite the responsibility required by the job of chief executive, be it at the state or national level. The personal life also has its dark moments where he's depicted as an absentee father.
Nancy doesn't get much better treatment, and in some ways gets the brunt of the criticism. She is depicted as shrewd, conniving, nasty at times, manipulative, overly concerned with society, a lousy parent, and as first lady of California and the United States, rather a spendthrift.
This is all what you've probably heard about in most of the reviews you've read or heard about this miniseries. The criticism of the Reagans is severe in these respects, and some may not see it as fair and balanced, largely because the film does downplay Reagan's political successes. Again, you've heard this all before, so it shouldn't surprise you.
What most of the reviews I saw didn't mention, however, was the humanizing aspects of the film. Yes, the Reagans are shown as flawed individuals and perhaps not the people you'd want most in positions of power. But, the film also shows their compassionate sides, and Ron and Nancy's devotion to and love for each other. In the political arena, Reagan is given his due as a master communicator, which, regardless of on which side of the political spectrum you may fall, you have to admit. He did make gaffes (IE: the Bitburg visit and the "trees cause polution" comment), but his knack for communicating an idea or inspiring notion to the public, as well as his political shrewdness is given fair attention.
Additionally, even though the film shows their flaws, both Ron and Nancy are shown as people with genuine compassion. Nancy's concern regarding the AIDS epidemic, and Ron's entire political career being motivated by a desire to save people (even when he was making bad decisions). In this sense, I think the film is reasonably balanced. Yes, it shows the flaws of the Reagans, but much like the man himself, you can walk away from the film hating his politics, but still liking the man.
So, if you're expecting, say, Farenheit 9/11 or something along those lines, you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting a glossy, all sweetness and sunshine retrospective, you'll also be disappointed. If you're looking for a reasonably interesting dramatization of the life of one of America's more interesting couples, though, it's worth a rental.
15 of 29 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?