Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The American President

The American President; romantic comedy, USA, 1995; D: Rob Reiner, S: Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, Richard Dreyfuss, Samantha Mathis

Washington. Andrew Shepherd is a popular US president, a Democrat, preparing himself for re-election against the rival candidate Bob Rumson. Shepherd's wife died three years ago and he takes care of their daughter. However, things get complicated when he falls in love with Sydney, an environmental lobbyist who wants to pass a bill that will reduce the CO2 emissions by 20%. Rumson immediately uses that as his trump card, trying to present to the voters that a lobbyist is manipulating the president. After numerous complications, Sydney and Shepherd make up and explain their love to the public.

After "The West Wing", Aaron Sorkin's similar story "The American President" retroactively awakened new interest of the audience, and indeed, not without a reason: despite the 'over-patriotic' title that did not 'suit' some countries in the world, this movie, that showed that not even the life of a US president is a piece of cake, is charming, elegant and flows smoothly, gaining most of its charm thanks to fine performances by Michael Douglas and Annette Bening, both nominated for a Golden Globe as best actor/actress in a musical or comedy. Even though some solutions or depictions were too simplistic (the president's order to strike a Libyan target as a revenge makes him far less "sweet" than it was initially established, but maybe that was the intention) whereas by avoiding a "showdown" between Shepherd and his rival Rumson the movie missed out on a golden opportunity, yet on the other hand, some story subplots were indeed more complicated, whereas the final speech of the protagonist, who balances his private with his official life, is inspired ("America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".").


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