HBO kindly provided us with an advanced copy of the movie they made based on the 2008 campaign book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, or at least based on the parts about John McCain and Sarah Palin. We’ll have more coverage in the coming days, but here is what you need to know if you want to settle in and watch it on HBO during the several repeats we expect.
The movie appeals primarily to political junkies and those who have strong feelings about Sarah Palin. It relies very heavily on interspersed montages of media coverage. We’re not sure if this works as drama, although real politics-fanatics will feel like they are reliving all the big moments.
Ed Harris absolutely nails John McCain’s exasperation and excitement but ignores his style of speech. But Julianne Moore occasionally seems to become Sarah Palin. How you feel about her performance will depend a great deal on how you feel about Palin herself.
The movie, just like the book, takes as fact the views of the McCain political consultants who most hated Sarah Palin. So the movie portrays her not just as unprepared but positively stupid. And some of the “tutoring” she receives is completely condescending. Even if you think she wasn’t the most knowledgeable politician it is hard to believe she is this dumb.
All that said, the film does occasionally capture why Sarah Palin was so exciting. There are scenes that show how she seemed to speak for a group of Americans who don’t feel connected to politics. And it reminds us that the McCain campaign was dead before she joined the ticket and juiced both the fundraising and the live events.
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