Regular readers know that I have become a fan of New York Times movie reviewer A.O. Scott, who seems to me both insightful and on target most of the time. He - I just checked, he is indeed a he - goes off target only when lefty politics come up, and then his NYT blinders come out. This review is no exception, as he writes:
Morris [the movie's fictional new class democrat dream candidate played by George Clooney, who claims that his religion is the constitution but whose every policy proposal is unconstitutional on any reasonable reading of that much-abused document], locked in a battle for the nomination with a colorless (and barely seen) Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell), is a bit of a cipher, or perhaps a symbol. He stands for an ideal of political charisma that the film, directed by Mr. Clooney and based on the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon, sets out to tarnish. And yet it seems doubtful, after more than a decade of scandal, acrimony and bare-knuckled media brawling, that this noble fantasy exists anywhere but in the minds of writers and actors who look back fondly on the glorious make-believe administrations of Henry Fonda and Martin Sheen.In fact, what I think is stunning about the American political scene is just how much of the electorate, including much of the chattering classes, still does fall in love with the politician of the moment, whether red or blue, despite all of the evidence that suggests the idiocy of doing so. One needs only refer back to 2008, and the hordes of aggressively naive and idealistic Obama supporters, to realize the falsity of Scott's empirical claim. Yes, many of those folks now feel hungover and regretful of their one-campaign stand, shocked to discover that their one-time hero is actually a Chicago politician (who could have known?), who really didn't mean that stuff about peace and transparency and chilling out the drug war and all the rest. I read the movie as reflecting this sort of still-raw disillusion with Obama, which is a very different reading than Scott's.
In any case, recommended, if only for some excellent acting, and a healthy does of realism about American politics.