Reviews of Game Change
Displaying all 3 reviews
Game Change is a film directed by Jay Roach and stars Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, a governer of Alaska who was elected by Senator John McCain and Senior Campaign Strategist Steve Schmidt in the American 2008 elections. Moore won an Emmy award for her performance, and claimed to have felt validated that Sarah Palin herself did not watch the HBO film nor did she particularly approve of Moore’s portrayal of her.
Based on the book of the same name about the month before Obama came to be President of the United States, Game Change is essentially a romanticised, very ‘Hollywood’ character study of how celebrity culture has affected 21st century politics. In August 2008, Senator John McCain on the conservative Republican party had a deficit of 20% in terms of women voters. To close the gender gap and raise voting figures, McCain found the governer of Alaska Sarah Palin who was and is still today pro-life and anti-gay. From the start, Steve Schmidt who was working with the team at the time was very cynical of Palin’s knowledge of foreign policy and her optimism at the beginning seemed almost naive. Inevitably, Palin was a great actress despite her lack of knowledge in certain interviews that took place over this period of time. The loving mother of five Palin supposedly did not know the difference between North and South Korea nor did she know that the United Kingdom is not headed by the Queen but by the Prime Minister.
In this film, Schmidt says that ‘news is just entertainment’. So by the time that the Republican party began to realise that Palin was not qualified to be vice-president, it was already too late. She was being parodied by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. Many news reporters were discussing the fact that her daughter was going through a teen pregnancy. Sarah Osbourne and Matt Damon as celebrities both declared that they found the fact that Palin was just picked up from Alaska a month before the election seemed to be like a “daft Disney movie”.
Julianne Moore argued after a great performance in this film that politicians should not have to be celebrities who are glamorous like movie stars. And she’s right. It’s always great to see the storyline from a different side (for example, Meryl Streep as Thatcher in ‘The Iron Lady’). This film has made me see Sarah Palin in a slightly different way – but one has to remember that Moore is much more likeable than Palin in reality. And we’ll never know if things really did turn sour behind closed doors as Palin became more and more popular. But that is what is so intriguing to watch in this film. Moore has played these kind of strong-willed, complex characters before. Palin herself addressed this film in a hesitant and unusual way, seemingly avoiding discussion of the film. But if she really did have a breakdown, perhaps the whole thing was a facade. Sure she knew a lot about what she must do in speeches to ensure that the nation liked her. But Sarah Palin often lied, avoided questions and was essentially just a hockey mum with little expertise or experience.
This HBO 2-hour film focuses less on Obama but still uses a lot of found footage to ensure that we see this as a pseudo-documentary, and it’s all the better for that. There is the whole (?) story here in just a short time. The stirring score poses the characters into a battlefield of emotion and power. All of the performances ensure that we know how dedicated the actors are. Moore herself loved the idea of performing as Palin despite her own personal views. Schmidt said that watching this was like having an out-of-body experience, so I doubt that most of the film is untrue. It’s a reflective and intriguing look at American politics today, and as the 2012 elections surround us all now, it is great to look back on not-so-distant history as entertainment. (Isn’t that what politics is about now?)
Palin is still well-known and popular on social networking sites. But the director Roach’s message with this film is that we should focus on a politician’s wisdom rather than their demeanour. And I think that even though the film definitely has a liberal bias, the message here is clear and seems logical. At least if someone qualified to be a politician runs for president or vice-president, they won’t have to feel so pressured or broken down as perhaps Palin did.
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
Title: Game Change
Genre: Drama, History
Director: Jay Roach
David Barry Gray
The truth is, before watching this film, I didn’t even know how Sarah Palin looks like, and as apolitical as I am, I just briefly googled some pics of her before watching this HBO’s TV-film, but still Moore’s look-alike is plainly stunning, such a high-profiled bio-pic is no doubt a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity for her. And boy, she has nailed down that woman from the first shot and never let her go. This is so far Moore’s most challenging role, since Palin is a domestic mega-celebrity (maybe also internationally) and her ridiculous campaign yarn has taken place merely 4 years ago, the repercussions are scarcely ebbed, and against all adds, Moore’s interpretation is more than successful, what she does is not just accurate mimicry, but in a subtle and elusive way to treat her character with captivating charisma and diminish a mainly derogatory undertone which could have been taken for granted.
Directed by Jay Roach (MEET THE PARENTS 2000, a 7/10 and MEET THE FOCKERS 2004, a 6/10), lends this contentious political farce the most intriguing character development thread, following Sarah Palin’s step-by-step metamorphosis into a national laughing-stock, but with dignity and meticulousness. But Palin is not the only character with brio, Woody Harrelson’s Steve Schmidt is also the core of the film, his onlooker status does’t curtain himself from being a secondary cipher, his perspective towards Palin has also experienced a drastic transition, and despite of his baldness, Harrelson has never resigned from his boldness to be the elite of McCain’s brain trust. Ed Harris’McCain, may falls into a too comprehensive outlook, in lack of a deeper scrutinization into his various levels of personalities, but after all it is not his biopic, Harris is stupendous in his relatively shorter screen time. Moore, Harrelson and Harris all procure their Emmy nominations and Moore will no doubt take the honour since she is peerless this time, and the fourth acting nomination is for Sarah Paulson, whose suited-up adviser Nicolle Wallace is pitch-perfect in her face-off with Palin, her final vote is tellingly comforting.
As the “Palin gone rogue”is the overt spoiler and this film is not about an underdog winner, it is a political caricature of losers, which does not disqualify itself become a flexibly soulful and excellently diverting film, my only bellyaching is if it had been released as a theatrical film, Moore will definitely get her flipping overdue Oscar!
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
‘It’s God’s plan’ a calm Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) announces as she is chosen to become the Republican vice presidential nominee in the historic American election of 2008. The events themselves seem so fresh and vivid in the memory that to describe them as history feels somewhat redundant. We all remember the raised eyebrows and gasps of incredulity as the Governor of Alaska was plucked from relative obscurity to become one of the most recognised faces on the planet. Few could predict the ultimate outcome. Based largely on the political journal of the same name, Game Change tracks the decision by the McCain campaign team to hoist a ‘game changing element’ into the ring of the election. Head organiser Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) believes that a fiery right wing candidate will boost bedrock support whilst her being a woman will cross the gender divide and provide a celebrity counter balance to Barack Obama’s unprecedented popularity. John McCain (Ed Harris) is delighted with the decision especially after her barnstorming opening speeches. However joy soon turns to dread as they discover that Palin is woefully ignorant on America’s key foreign policies. Public adulation turns to mockery and she soon begins to buckle under the strain of the campaign. The rest as they say is history…
The release date of Game Change has not gone unnoticed in political circles with Plain and McCain having accused the film of lies before having even watched it. With a new election looming the timing could not be more noticeable. Of course it is the portrayal and performances that will define such a project. As Palin, Julianne Moore is quite frankly a tour de force. Often critics get caught up in their own adjectives and hyperbole but in all sincerity; there are moments I forgot I was watching Julianne Moore. The physical and vocal ticks are uncanny yet there is a strong parallel between the images of Palin that we recall and the portrayed image that we were not privy to. Moore perfectly conveys the sense of someone desperately out of their depth yet refusing to fold. The media harassment that hounded her and her family is plain to see for all including those opposed to her politics. As much as race and age played a crucial factor in Obama and McCain’s public image, so to do the fact that Palin was a woman and may have forgotten (or overlooked) the frankly misogynistic attitude of many mainstream media outlets towards her at the time of her campaign. These elements are expertly woven by director Jay Roach into the narrative along with archive and interview footage edited to seem that the actors are interacting with their real life counterparts. This includes an incredibly self referential moment when a humiliated Palin watches the now infamous Saturday Night Live sketch with Tina Fey.
But it is in the ultimate treatment of Plain that the film falls short. Whilst casting her in sympathetic light for the opening act the descent into an ‘uncontrollable renegade’ seems to come to fast and comes off as a tad unconvincing, a shame considering the initial scenes. There is a genuine punch the air moment in the third act when Schmidt (a brilliant Harrelson) puts her firmly in place whilst retaining a professional tone but it’s the one subtle moment toward the finale that you can increasingly feel the melodrama creeping in. The film can’t decide to ultimately exonerate her or to condemn her. It doesn’t help that McCain himself is pretty much side lined by the drama. Ed Harris is a magnificent screen presence and though certainly not up to Moore’s pedigree he definitely has McCain’s physicality nailed. Yet he is reduced to watching from the side lines occasionally stepping forward to deliver a bit of sage advice for the ‘young firebrands.’ It’s a waste of a great performer and whilst I normally wouldn’t mind in any other work I severely doubt the actual John McCain swears so much. It passes over from shocking into quite frankly silly.
HBO have maintained a high standard of quality across a range of platforms and to a degree it’s really encouraging to see a television movie draw such talent to it and get such a wide release. I don’t think it’s flawless by any means though I concede that projects like this will always divide opinion in their portrayal of such recent events. The powerhouse performances see it through however and with the election just around the corner who knows; maybe we’ll be back here in four years?
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.