'Mitts' Off

Netflix Romney documentary removes veil over politics

No dramatic voice overlays, no drumrolls or fanfares. Just a man running for President.

The 2012 presidential campaign is long over, but Mitt Romney hasn’t been forgotten — at least, not by Netflix. “Mitt,” the new Netflix original documentary, chronicles the former governor of Massachusetts’ two attempts at presidential office and offers an insightful and intriguing view of the political world.

“Mitt” is an exposure documentary. It’s not meant to show the Republican’s stance on gun rights in 2012 or the tactics used by his campaign. Rather, the purpose is to show you Mitt Romney as a person, without the lens of media bias and political slander: Mitt after his tie comes off with his feet on the coffee table.

Almost all the footage in “Mitt” focuses on behind-the-scenes moments: conversations between Mitt and his family as he decided to run, the late night planning sessions with his family and advisors, the intense spiritual life he kept up while on campaign and even a few embarrassing “Dad” jokes.

I felt a real sense of empathy and compassion toward Romney as I watched these moments. He seemed like a genuine person with strong morals and a deep-seated drive to do good, no matter my opinion on his political stance. By the end of the documentary, even though I knew he was going to lose, I was still on the edge of my seat with the rest of the Romney family as they watched the polling results come in. The film closed with Romney at his Massachusetts home, watching the sunrise on Nov. 7, asking himself, “What if?”

The movie wasn’t trying to forward any political agenda, but rather it aimed to break down the wall between the candidates and their constituents. Released exactly halfway through the current president’s second term, the documentary serves as more of a reminder that politicians are more than the office they hold and the platforms they stand on. They’re people who are trying to do their best at an incredibly overwhelming and difficult job.

If anything, “Mitt” is a critique of the media, as it exemplified just how much sway media outlets have over elections. Shot after shot depicted Romney and his advisors agonizing about how to change the media’s image of him, or how he was still accused of flip-flopping even after multiple attempts to correct the media’s portrayal of him. The film’s format overcame accusations of media bias by presenting viewers with exactly what was shown and left it at that. No dramatic voice overlays, no drumrolls or fanfares. Just a man running for President.

More documentaries like “Mitt” are crucial to stripping away the veil that surrounds political figures and to remind voters that what’s on television usually isn’t the unbiased truth. Before you vote in the next election, watch “Mitt.” It might not change your vote, but it will definitely change your perspective.

Published February 18, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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