Oct 31, 2012


It took me quite some time to watch this movie, and frankly, it had not even been on my list until it got so many Emmy awards. Honestly speaking, I don't like movies in general, especially those over one hour - I have very short attention span. But I love it when political processes are getting publicly dissected, so I actually enjoyed watching this one.

Game Change (HBO) was based on a book of the same title, written by political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about McCain/Palin campaign of 2008. Both Palin and McCain claimed the book and the movie to be false or inaccurate, though some of the campaign insiders, including chief strategist Steve Schmidt, who was also portrayed in the movie, seemed to believe otherwise.

In short, the movie is about how Palin (played by Julianne Moore) has been chosen as a VP candidate for a very wrong reason and how she managed to gain nation wide popularity without an adequate level of competence or the appropriate manners.

This movie left me with some mixed feelings. In terms of telling a story it was good and overall interesting to watch. Surprisingly, Sarah Palin comes out as a very humanly, almost sympathetic character, despite the fact that Game Change is clearly pro-Democratic. OK, she doesn't know shit about foreign or, for that matter, national politics, but it's not her competence she gets chosen for, is it? McCain's character was, to my shock, even more likable, which I could never say about this person IRL.

To the downsides. I like to think of myself as a liberal (well, for the most part that is), but it does not feel right to me that the story is perpetually rolling around Palin's ignorance, whereas, let's say, her dreadful rhetoric, which is still contributing to the country division, is barely even touched (they do talk about it, but I do not think it is thoroughly illustrated).  

I know, it must be extremely difficult to portray some real life person, especially, if this person is still all over TV. Julianne Moore was praised for her performance, but I actually believe Ed Harris did a better job. I swear, at times his gestures and mimics made my brain replace him with the image of real McCain and the makeup people did not even have to yellow his teeth! (That's very low of me to mock someone's physical features, I know, but I'm still very far from becoming Joan Rivers, aren't I?). I did not have these moments with Moore's Palin, it might be because I know the actress very well and can't subconsciously let go of this fact. Or it could be because though it is fairly easy to copy Palin's looks, imitating her gestures, manner of speech, facial expressions - not so much.

And then I did not think it was such a great idea to use the actual footage of Obama/Biden, because it made me even more aware that McCain/Palin are played by actors. The reporters I could take, but making Moore fake debate Biden in no way made it feel real, but I'm sure critics believed otherwise.

Talking about the current US President, the most fascinating idea of the entire movie was that Palin and Obama are fundamentally similar, only one of them is smarter and better educated. The non-achievers, the talkie-talkers with drive and charisma, they gained people's support by simply speaking, and their speeches remained to be their greatest achievements. To understand the mesmerizing effect Obama had on most of the world we just need to remember that he's got the Nobel Peace Prize, and this is not a freaking fiction, this is the fact that we have to live with for the rest of our lives.

Anyway, back to the movie. Although I admit that personalities are properly illustrated there, I regret to say that the things what I watch political movies or shows for are not. Tricks, tactics and techniques, typically used in campaigns like that, are presented very vaguely, and since they are ultimately not working, I have hard time understanding why they could be considered as valid in the first place. The only politically calculated, dubiously moral approach that is given a proper narration is the one that is addressed in Anderson Cooper's question, whether Palin has been chosen for being more appealing to Republican voters, rather than for being actually fit for the role of Vice President of the United States. And maybe the reason behind this choice has not been so boldly obvious to the average voter. But other things like when fair criticism of a candidate by reporters is presented to the public as a politically motivated attack, or when no one spends the money on campaigning in states that are either steady "red" or are more than likely to vote "blue" (vice versa for the Democrats, of course), or the whole practice of releasing pieces of negative information about the opponent - they are neither new nor there is anything in executing them that we wouldn't know. So, in terms of political system overview, this movie did not feel like an insider story, more like an anecdote told by an observer from the outside, who happened to overhear a couple of chitchats, but without any particular details.

Well, how shall I end this piece of writing? I guess, by saying that Game Change is a fine movie. The story, though is not told the way I would prefer it to be, is a compelling one, and whereas I can never know how accurate, if at all, it is, it does give a general idea about the source of the whole Sarah Palin phenomenon. In the end, when McCain gives his concession speech, his adviser Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) has a face expression, when he hears the crowd chanting "Sarah", as if he realizes that he is Dr. Frankenstein; well, he isn't. It's not the political advisers, who made Palin who she is now, they only put some light on her due to their own shortsightedness; the rest of work has been done by her and the people who see themselves in her.

The people of America are facing another presidential election now, and from the other continent it feels that sadly, neither of their options could be the right choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment