DGA & Emmy Award winning comedy director Jay Roach (“Austin Powers in Goldmember” & “Meet the Parents”) is the surprise replacement for the ailing Sydney Pollack at the helm of this meticulously researched HBO dramatisation of the disputed 2000 US Presidential election which racked up a slew of prestigious awards including the Emmy for Outstanding Made for TV Movie.
Ousted former Chief of Staff Ron Klain (Kevin Spacey) finds himself recalled by Al Gore to spearhead his dispute of the mismanaged 2000 US Presidential election while former Secretary of State James Baker (Tom Wilkinson) takes on the same job for rival candidate George W. Bush in a messy fight finally brought to an unsatisfactory conclusion by an unprecedented US Supreme Court ruling.
Kevin Spacey (“Superman Returns” & “Beyond the Sea”) is back on form as the much put upon political insider and puts in a compelling performance that holds together a potentially dull plot line and drives it forward with the sort of will power displayed by his character whilst Tom Wilkinson does the same for the other team brining things to a head with their final showdown.
Golden Globe winner Laura Dern puts in a wonderfully pitched caricature of Florida’s gurning Secretary of State Katherine Harris at the head of an all star ensemble which includes an ever foul-mouthed Denis Leary, an easily overlooked Bob Balaban, a charming Ed Begley, Jr. and a wussy John Hurt all pulling off convincing interpretations of their real-life counterparts.
The out-of-his-element director has half his work done for him by the Artios award winning casting team which pulled together an incredibly talented ensemble who get on with their jobs and leave little for Roach to do than point the camera and then bring it all together again with the help of Emmy and Eddie award winning editor Alan Baumgarten.
Making a complicated process of legal and political wrangling into a compelling film was never going to be an easy job but WGA Award-winning actor turned debut screenwriter Danny Strong has a commitment to detail which shines through and if the Hollywoodisation of the story results in a few characters on both sides being let off the hook then it seems a small price to pay for entertainment.
“As sure as you are about your man.”