Fully aware that I am writing for what is largely a UK audience, I nonetheless don’t believe it comes as a startling revelation that here in America we stand on the precipice of a brutally contested and enormously critical Presidential election in the good ol’ US of A. With this firmly in the forefront of my along with every other fellow yank’s mind at present may I humbly offer my review of the 2012 political dramatic interpretation of our country’s 2008 campaign for Executive Office “Game Change”.
And may we ALL keep calm and carry on.
“Game Change” is a movie with an agenda. Based on the book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, and directed by Jay Roach, the prevailing thrust is that John McCain, and not Barack Obama, would have won the 2008 Presidential election if the Republican nominee for Vice President was virtually anybody other than who it was, Sarah Palin. But is this actually the case? There is a sizable camp of Americans who maintain to this day that McCain got as many votes as he did because Palin shared the ticket with him. Alas, who can say with any certainty, really?
One thing for sure, Julianne Moore as Palin, Ed Harris as McCain and Woody Harrelson as GOP senior campaign strategist and advisor Steve Schmidt all do yeoman work in portraying their respective real life characters. And while Moore is quite good, as usual, her portrayal of Palin comes off as heavy-handed in its intent to show the then Alaska Governor as an at least partially unstable dullard, diva and religious zealot. You may deem this is as fair enough. I don’t see it that way. This established, it need be said, however, that Palin is also depicted as fiercely devoted to her family. In fact, if this film is at least remotely accurate, Palin seems to make every opportunity to have her little boy, Trig (who was born with Down Syndrome), literally in her lap, even as the campaign explodes in heated controversy and chaos all around her.
And though “Game Change” is billed as the story of the rift between McCain and Palin, this dynamic did not come across in any strident manner. To the contrary, Harris gives us a McCain who is consistently supportive and benevolent toward his progressively polarising VEEP teammate.
As the final seconds tick down on “Game Change”, the lingering question of “what if?” clearly continues to haunt those who fought tooth and nail for McCain to set up shop in The White House. But, as the final frame starkly reminds us, you only ever get one shot.
Make it count.