I don't generally love or hate politicians. I'm very familiar with political figures and I follow the grotesque animal that is politics fairly closely, but I don't feel passionately for or against specific individuals. This certainly holds true for Mitt Romney; however, he is a character that I found particularly fascinating due to the unusual containment of his personality this past election cycle.
The new Netflix documentary Mitt, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week, follows Mitt Romney and his family from 2008, the last year of his first presidential campaign, until a couple days after he lost to Obama in 2012. The first third of the film focuses on the 2008 campaign, but the bulk focuses on Romney vs. Obama in 2012. Mitt is a personal portrait that’s surprisingly light and funny. My favorite moments have nothing to do with debates or political discussion, but rather Mitt’s family. We see Mitt Romney eat at Wendy’s for lunch, sleep on the floor of an airplane, and pray. I’m not usually comfortable watching religion, but the prayer scenes were quite special. I felt Mitt and his family’s sincerity and devotion. These scenes show the Romney family in a vulnerable, honest setting, and it is truly moving.
Mitt Romney is represented as a sweet, kind, and funny person. Mitt is essentially a dull, apolitical story about a nice person. It becomes fascinating because of its cultural context. Thus if you are like me, and follow the political process, it’s a rewarding intimate portrait of a former presidential candidate.
Unfortunately, a lack of access during crucial points in the 2012 campaign held the film back. We are exposed in great detail to certain events, like seeing Mitt’s notes from a debate with President Obama, but held back from others, like the selection of Paul Ryan as Vice President, which isn’t even mentioned. Not to mention that the film really loses steam after about 60 minutes, since there isn’t a clear trajectory. Nonetheless, the documentary was a compelling experience that I recommend to any political junkies who would like to Mitt Romney behind closed doors.
The film premieres on Netflix tomorrow, 1/24, at 2pm.