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Mainstream - Recount

Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, John Hurt
Directed by Jay Roach
Warner Home Video / HBO - Warner Home Video 2008
116 minutes

The docudrama DVD Recount is an HBO production that tells the story of what happened during the days before Bush ... won ... the 2000 election thanks to Florida. Recount is a very good docudrama though you have to be a bit of a political junkie to really enjoy this DVD especially as there more docu than drama.

Recount ‘s biggest hurdle is the main characters in this docudrama are political and legal machination. Also, unless you are a Political Science major or spent your days watching CNN you do not immediately understand who some of the players are or what their exact role is in either the Republican or Democrat campaign team.

To director Jay Roach's credit, even if there are many characters, the story itself is clearly told and unbiased. Yes, the Democrats are shows as taking the high road "We're not going to turn this into a street fight." and the Republicans as taking the low road "This is going to be a street fight." but at the same time you get the feeling the Republicans want to win the election more than the Dems and are better at banding together.

One thing Recount does better than any other DVD I have seen on the 2000 election is explain the whole dangling chad, hanging chad, dimpled chad bit. The scene where Michael Whouley (Denis Leary) explains the concept to Ron Klain (Kevin Spacey) should be taught in film schools. It is a brilliant lesson in getting factual, complex, and boring information across without being didactic.

One thing Recount makes clear towards the end is whatever lead Bush had in Florida was quickly vanishing during the final recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court before it was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It does gloss over the fact the Democratic Party approved the very flawed butterfly ballot used in the 2000 election in Florida. Somebody was asleep at the wheel.

The one person that really comes across badly is Katherine Harris (Laura Dern in a brilliant performance). She is shown as easily manipulated, flighty, and not quite honest. (the "firewall" she says she set up around her office to block out outside interference is open to Republican bigwigs).

Recount is a bit too long for its own good. Granted, it is a docudrama DVD about a very complex issue but there are a few things that could have been glossed over.

Amazingly absent from this HBO production is the role of the media. Then again, the media has since the seventies been more interested in being fed the spinned story than looking for the real story.

If you want to know more about Election 2000 and the events before, during, and after election day watch:

 Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election

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