Monday, 20 August 2012
GAME CHANGE (TV) ***
It's probably fair to say I've only had a passing interest in US politics in recent years and am largely uninformed of the intricacies of presidential campaigns. Obviously, the historic dimension of the 2008 appointment of Barack Obama wasn't lost on me and I do recall the furore surrounding Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running partner - Governor Sarah Palin.
However, most of my insight was gleaned from the popular spoof of her various faux pais by comedian Tina Fey on TV show 'Saturday Night Live' which rather pleasingly find their way into this film. This comedic element hints at the more personable and less stuffy approach director Jay Roach and HBO have taken with the material.
Based on a book written by two political journalists (Mark Halperin and John Heilemann) GAME CHANGE focusses on the experience of would-be vice president Sarah Palin as she is taken from political obscurity in Alaska and thrust into the media spotlight. Julianne Moore delivers a fine impersonation of the real-life Palin deftly mimicking her tone of voice, gestures and ticks. Roach's film convincingly mixes reconstruction and archive footage inviting us into the mindset of his slightly deranged anti-heroine.
Moore is ably supported by Ed Harris as Senator John McCain and a superb Woody Harrelson as campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Not only are the performances excellent but the hair and make-up is genuinely impressive for what is fundamentally a 'made-for-tv' movie.
Overall, the film's main thrust is in setting up the balance of power and its oscillation between Palin and Schmidt as the latter increasingly loses his influence over the maverick rookie. The satire is more subtle than scathing (although Palin and McCain have both claimed the film to be inaccurate despite neither having watched it) and nothing of any real significance is bestowed about American politics or the individuals involved. Although I found GAME CHANGE to be mildly diverting, unpretentious and well acted entertainment.
The Count's Verdict: If you have the slightest interest in Sarah Palin or the media fall out that ensued around her in the 2008 US presidential campaign you'll find HBO's GAME CHANGE breezy but slight viewing. Moreover, if you're a fan of either Ed Harris, Julianne Moore or Woody Harrelson there's plenty to enjoy here as all are on fine form.