Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Politics often makes strange bedfellows. The real-life events of GAMECHANGE make their way to the screen. Images: HBO.

Of all the bold roles that the talented and lovely actress Julianne Moore has ever taken in her continuing, well-crafted career, I have to say that none surprised me more than when she accepted the challenge and responsibility of playing the real-life figure of firebrand personality and controversial politician, one time Governor of Alaska and supermom, Sarah Palin, in GAME CHANGE, the high quality HBO/PLAYTONE feature-length TV movie adaptation, executive produced by Tom Hanks, based in part on the book of the same name by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, that addictively charted her rise from once almost total obscurity to her then completely out of the blue, and thoroughly unexpected, placing/selection in the political spotlight as the soon popular, if critically challenged, Republican Vice President Nominee, alongside Presidential wannabe John McCain. The ground-breaking and now thoroughly iconic 2008 American electoral battle that eventually saw Barack Obama become the first black President of the United States.

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin.
Ed Harris as John McCain.
Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt.

To say that Palin, born in Idaho and raised in the wilderness upbringing of guns, hunting and hard-headedness of snowbound Alaska, was, and remains, a controversial figure would be a total understatement, especially in her creationist views and strong anti-abortionist stance. But she certainly has a powerful charisma about her and a gung-ho we love America spirit about her to be admired and feared, qualities that a large core demographic of Americans- fans of the equally controversial Bush administration-would like and follow, with McCain's choice of a woman Vice President then, in its early days, considered a shrewd and ground-breaking move in an electoral race that had more historical surprises for the country than any other period in quite some time. The only problem was that, having not been prior vetted properly, Palin, outside of her knowledge of key US issues, was totally out of her depth on all-important foreign policy and the crucial inter-relationships the world community shared with each other, and as the political race wore on and Palin's popularity increased, her outspoken views soon got the better of her and threatened to overshadow and snuff out the vital political work being done by her running mate McCain-an older statesmen figure with years more political and life experience, whose behind the scenes team, seeing how powerfully charismatic Obama was becoming, were more desperate than ever to win the key states seats that would get their man into the Oval Office.

On the ticket: McCain and Palin in GAMECHANGE.

Trailer: Video: Game Change Trailer - Sky Atlantic HD

With such moves and counter moves, GAME CHANGE, adapted by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach (the writer and director of the acclaimed drama RECOUNT), certainly lives up to its mission statement as a vigorous political drama that charts those early hopes, surprises, promises, struggles and resentments in a period in time that would shape an eventual new road for America. There's no bias towards any political party shown and everyone involved character and personality-wise is seemingly portrayed as they should be, with all their strengths and weaknesses intact, with excellent lead performances from Ed Harris as John McCain and Woody Harrelson as his soon beleaguered spin doctor/strategist Steve Schmidt, who came up with the idea of bringing Palin onto the electoral ticket -a defining historical moment which he apparently, ultimately, regrets. Despite all the ups-and-downs that Palin had in this real-life period, the movie certainly isn't, in my personal opinion, a slight on her, and Miss Moore brings the woman's triumphs, frustrations, gutsiness and often unstable belligerence to the screen, as both a mother and politician, effectively. Its not a performance in the league of Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, and but Moore certainly does a very good job and not only does she really look like Palin, she equally captures her ways and mannerisms well.

Ever since the seventies and the days of Watergate and the likes of TV drama like WASHINGTON BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, I've always found the evolution, manoeuvring strategies and power plays of American politics-real and fiction-fascinating (and there's a bigness and boldness to it all which I think the politicians of the UK are now desperately trying to copy in on- mostly without success or real hope). So, with such glitz, glamour, machinations and shenanigans linked to such far-ranging political shaping, GAME CHANGE was a surefire must-see programme for me, and one that proved to be as well-made and highly watchable as I'd hoped it. The real life Sarah Palin and John McCain may have chosen not to watch it, but that shouldn't stop you from taking a look at it when it arrives on the UK's SKY ATLANTIC HD on 26th April.

KOOL TV RATING: 4 out of 5

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