In this dramatization of the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore concedes the presidency to George W. Bush, but recants when he learns of irregularities in the Florida vote count. Democratic strategists Ronald Klain and Michael Whouley race to Florida to uncover the truth, as do Republicans under James Baker III. Between faulty voting equipment and the vagaries of Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a 36-day stalemate ensues. Written by
If you thought a movie about the controversial 2000 Presidential campaign recount in Florida, you're wrong. Just when you think it's some crazy movie, you recall that it all really happened. At times, only the CNN footage reminds us that it really did happen. The drama and gravitas of the story should not be lost, but is, upon Americans. The movie not only accurately portrays actual events, but notes their context and their importance to American history, an analysis that many have already so soon forgotten.
The star-filled cast's fame does not disservice or overshadow the characters they portray, a fine balance of talent and respect. Special note, however, must be paid to Laura Dern's awe-inspiring role as the aloof, artificial Secretary of State, Katherine Harris. Despite makeup which makes prostitutes jealous, her mannerisms and uncanny slanted poise cause incredulous disbelief that such a wacky imitation could be enacted. All the cast, however, is likewise surrealistically convincing.
The hard working, late hours, and soul-sucking reality of working in a campaign office, often a suite rented out of a strip shopping mall with temporary desks and phone lines cheaply laid in for only a few months' time, is evident and pervasive. Such atmospheres lend the movie a realistic feel of grassroots-level work. One is likely to develop a profound respect for the idealism and vigor (or ego) of such volunteers with such spartan environments.
Music is not even necessary as the chaotic, meaningless buzz of a campaign office or the silent seriousness of a limo ride are soundtracks in and of themselves. The seriousness of the situation does not let the viewer go for the entire movie's arc, from the movie's opening seconds when an elderly lady's seemingly innocent action will cause screaming suspended disbelief in all viewers alike. The tension continues for over an hour more, frustrating and terrifying viewers until an ending whose frustration compares with few other feelings. Even typically dry court readings gain an impossible level of drama, tension, and emotional disbelief to the point of tears as the movie progresses through the increasingly unbelievable tale. The dirty tactics are unsurprising, given recent politics, but to witness the beginnings of the such era in retrospective is humbling. The animosity of the foes is tempered with a thin grasp on reality and humanity, summoned by powers eluding most of us common lay men and women.
The film is so accurate and nearly documentary which is suitable for those of all political persuasions. The far more important point is the preservation of the Union and our ability to pass power peacefully and civilly. Affairs even weightier than party affiliation are at stake. The movie is trying on the heart and mind as it begs us to question how insane the electoral system is, a view with which those of all political persuasions may likely agree. Nonetheless, the system somehow survived to live another day, a day that will again return.
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