Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
United Kingdom, 2006. Borough Films, Borough Picture Company, Channel 4 Television Corporation, Chicago Borough Films, Film4. Screenplay by Gabriel Range, Simon Finch. Cinematography by Graham Smith. Produced by Simon Finch, Ed Guiney, Robin Gutch, Gabriel Range. Music by Richard Harvey. Production Design by Gary Baugh. Costume Design by Eileen McCahill. Film Editing by Brand Thumim.
No end of controversy surrounded early screenings of this fictional documentary about the assassination of U.S. President George W. Bush, resulting in its not being given distribution in the United States despite being awarded the International Critics Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival. The upside of this foray into artistic censorship in the land of the free, however, is that Americans will be spared the trauma of having to watch a really boring, badly recreated documentary that does have an intelligent message running behind it but is a pain in the ass to sit through. It seeks to detail Bush’s murder (effectively created by some crafty digital imagery) and its aftermath, in which the country descends into paranoid chaos and the search for his killer heightens the nation’s racist attitudes and bloodlust for revenge. Unfortunately, some overanxious performers trying too hard to be real people and some purported news footage that could never come from an actual news source ring so false that any dramatic possibilities are rendered lifeless from the get-go. It’s a shame that notable artists like Becky Ann Baker, who is a superb actress, are made to look terrible by the shoddy direction and low-quality writing. James Urbaniak, star of Hal Hartley’s Henry Fool, is one of the few who pulls off an authentic character as the forensics expert who resigns in the wake of a show trial that seeks to vilify an innocent man for the president’s death. For one of the most talked about films of the year it certainly is among the least compelling.