**If you honestly thought for a second that this article was going to be my support for Mitt Romney in 2016 you’d be wrong, and also, I think he’d rather undergo actual water boarding then run another campaign, at least, according to this movie.
I had really only moderately heard about this documentary prior to last week, about a film crew who followed the Romney family during his 2008 and 2012 run for President respectively, but I was not prepared for what I ended up watching. What transpired in the 90 minute
montage film of a family on the brink of the highest political office in the land, was a mix of brutal honesty and pure heartbreak. It’s Mitt Romney doing what he does best, running for office, and yet the mood throughout is somber and real, as if the Romney family was more Katniss Everdeen, sacrificing themselves for the masses, and less – well… Mitt Romney.
What I Loved…
Break away the political punditry, the glass box that political families are forced to step into, and the visceral rhetoric of the select minority and you’re left with an american family not unlike many others trying to leave behind a legacy for themselves. The peek behind the curtain as we follow the Romney’s from early 2006 until election day 2012 never feels forced or staged and may be the most accurate portrayal of what it must be like to pursue the Presidency in our current social media, 24-hour news cycle society ,than anything else in modern history. You spend most of the film wondering why “documentary” Mitt Romney and “candidate” Mitt Romney couldn’t grab a beer together and figure out how to appeal to Americans in the way he so seamless does here. His wife Ann, along with their sons (who shall here to fore all be renamed Jr Romney’s) spend most of the movie straddling the blurred lines between supportive family members and unwilling hostages for the better part of a decade, all in the hopes of becoming the First Family (a role that they seem all too hesitant to take in the first place). The emotional, mental, and financial roller coaster ride feels more authentic than any “reality” TV show I can remember and, politics aside, I beg you not to watch this film and think “I’d vote for that guy,” and mean it.
What I Hated….
But, of course, politics not aside, the film makers blatantly glaze over some of the more questionable Romney moments from both the short lived 2008 campaign, and the more notable 2012 campaign. Romney getting caught in the lie about Bain Capitol, his “binders full of women” comment, even his dog strapped to the top of the car snafu was edited out of an otherwise pretty short documentary and I wondered if they just missed the real life reaction to the shit storm that was these events, or if someone from inside the Romney camp put a stop to it somewhere between both elections when things really started heating up. While the access these film makers had seems pretty unlimited, we never really see the family in their natural setting. Of course the one exception being before he decides to run in the 2008 election, and even then we are met with the most staged scene in this entire movie of the family sled racing in the snow, Mitt front and center. I’m sure as the Romney campaign shifted in the polls the access to him and the family became more limited and the narrative of him as this family man, cornered into running for President by virtue of being the only viable nominee for the GOP in 2012 became THE only narrative anyone wanted told.
This is Netflix first venture into movie production and just like it’s original TV programming it knocks everything else to pieces. It’s has holes in the narrative- yes, but underneath that is a chilling story about how a regular person can just decide to run for public office and automatically they’re Beyonce level famous and their families are put under a microscope so narrow, one could barely breathe. It’s about how our political landscape is shaped by the few and how easily manipulated these politicians are by their respective parties. It’s why John McCain pre 2008 election was sane and post 2008 is borderline bipolar. It’s about power, privacy (or lack there of) and wanting what’s best for the American people when you can’t even discern what’s best for your own family. And yet it’s the story of the Republican party in both 2008 and 2012 campaign cycle. First unwilling to see past Hilary Clinton to the atomic bomb of change that was/is Barack Obama and then in 2012 settling for anything just left of crazy. Mitt Romney and his family were put in the crosshairs of a slow to evolve GOP and just like the end of this movie, no one is sure where they go from here.