Game Change (HBO, March 10, 9 PM PST)
“I know what I know what I know,” says Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) in Jay Roach’s reenactment of Palin’s nine flabbergasting weeks as a vice presidential candidate. Clumsily vetted by the team of Sacramento’s Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson), the inexperienced Alaska governor stirs up adoration. Meanwhile Palin’s lack of knowledge about the world taxes the tutoring ability of Nicole Wallace (Sarah Poulson, excellent). If Game Change has a bias, it’s in favor of John McCain (Ed Harris). He appears as an honest, affable if profane politician who is kept out of the disaster zone.
How to put this gently: if McCain had looked and acted like Harris, he’d be president now. And if Palin had been built like Moore, she never would have got the nomination. Palin’s beauty-contestant voluptuousness proved essential to the strange fantasies this robustly uninformed and strikingly narrow-minded candidate stirred up in the electorate.
Needless to say, Moore is one of the best actresses alive. Her subtlety in presenting all the shades of Palin’s blank stubbornness make this, finally, a flattering portrait: this Palin is clearly a mother before she’s anything else…a mother who falls so horrifically out of her depth that one even feels sorry for her. It’s like watching the bio-pic of a true-life version of the Dorothy Comingore character in Citizen Kane.
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