With the democratic primary season (hopefully) drawing to a close, and with a potentially nasty general election upon us, now seemed like the perfect time to pick at the giant scab that is the 2000 Presidential Election. Recount is the latest from HBO Films which recounts (zing!) the entire George Bush/Al Gore fiasco. The movie sports an all-star cast, including Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern and Tom Wilkinson.
Recount accomplishes what more than a month of around the clock reporting failed to do: it lays out the entire process in a way you can actually understand, albeit with a decidedly liberal bias. But while we all know how this story ends, Recount will still glue you to your television screen, almost hoping that somehow it’ll all play out differently this time. Spacey stars as Ron Klain, Al Gore’s former chief of staff who heads up his effort to challenge the Florida election results. On the opposite side of the aisle is Tom Wilkinson as James Baker, Bush Senior’s former Secretary of State who does everything he can to stand in his way.
Delivering one of the movie’s finest (funniest?) performances is Laura Dern as Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a woman who only years ago was “teaching the Chicken Dance to seniors” and who is now excited to be right smack in the center of the national spotlight. Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban and Dennis Leary round out the cast.
Politicos and fans of shows like The West Wing are going to have a lot of fun here. Suspense plays throughout as Gore’s camp races against the clock to get ballots in contested Florida counties recounted, or in some cases, counted at all. Republicans and all three or four fans of the Bush Administration will no doubt feel frustration at being painted as political slimeballs, resorting to harassment and intimidation to stop them. Of course, none of that will compare to frustration felt by Democrats, who will only view this as more evidence of an election that was stolen from it’s rightful winner. Iraq, rising food and gas prices and a tanking economy makes sure the salt is rubbed in nice and deep.
The film ends with Bush’s victory speech, in which he promises to earn the respect and trust of the American public, including those who didn’t vote for him. This forces us to ask ourselves the same question Spacey asks Wilkinson after the Supreme Court hands down it’s unprecedented, and some would say unbelievable, verdict, “Did the better man win?”
I love the political stuff, so Recount was right up my alley. But, as said, this movie will probably alienate some. But who cares, right? It was great anyway.
8 out of 10 stars