Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin.
No amount of primping or vocabulary lessons could have saved Sarah Palin from her ill-fated campaign to be U.S. vice president, and in “Game Change,” HBO’s provocative new feature on the 2008 elections, another round of scrutiny hits the stage.
This latest critique of the female candidate’s fight to prove her leadership capabilities premiered on Saturday, and turned out to be a far from complimentary review of the crusade. The two-hour movie provided an inside look on John McCain’s task to choose a running mate; Palin’s prevalent tragic flaws; and the thought of what could have been if the pendulum had somehow swung the other direction.
Based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, “Game Change” gets off to a slow start presenting McCain’s campaign strategy, but picks up when focus shifts to the dramatic internal fallout from his ultimate selection of Palin. The feature stars Julianne Moore and Ed Harris, and hits on all expected points from the race in a particularly brutal slam of Palin. The Alaska governor is first introduced in a scene at a local fair when, dressed in jeans and an oversized sweatshirt, she receives the call from McCain’s camp. It is an all too visual realization of her questionable credibility, and from there, her run is dissected and torn to shreds, reliving her casual remarks on abortion and stem cell research, her teenage daughter’s pregnancy and her infamous use of the word “maverick.”
While more positively depicting McCain, “Game Change” makes Palin look especially unintelligent. The movie recalls all the Tina Fey impersonations, the “gosh darn its” and “doggone its,” and Palin’s disastrous interview with Katie Couric. There are also nice details throughout, like a funny still frame of Joe Lieberman, and a series of scenes on Palin’s insufficient knowledge of foreign policy. One of McCain’s advisors comments, “It’s not that she doesn’t know the right answer, it’s that she doesn’t understand the question.”
Moore’s portrayal of Palin is flawless, and probably the most impressive aspect of the production, though Palin would likely cringe at the resemblance. She’s already made it clear she wants nothing to do with the film, writing in an email to ABC News on Friday, “I believe my family has the right priorities and knows what really matters. For instance, our son called from Afghanistan yesterday and he sounded good, and that’s what matters. Being in the good graces of Hollywood’s ‘Team Obama’ isn’t top of my list.”
The overwhelming reaction from viewers of the special seems positive, though many reinforce a disbelief that such events could have ever happened.
Kenneth Bastian tweets, “The Sarah Palin HBO movie sheds a whole lot of light on how the Republican party is run. A must see movie. This why we all should vote!!!”
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