HBO’s Game Change takes an inside look at the 2008 McCain presidential campaign. Based on the best-selling book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. It stars Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and Ed Harris. It premieres tonight, March 10th at 9PM. Set your DVRs.
The film is shown mainly from the perspective of Steve Schmidt, McCain’s chief campaign strategist, and the man largely responsible for the selection of Sarah Palin. This is Woody Harrelson’s role, and though he plays it exceptionally broody throughout the film, he inhabits his character well. There’s a lot going on between the lines. All of the acting in this film is naturalistic,Â believable. Julianne Moore however, is the star among stars.
There is a scene where Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin is watching Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. It speaks to her talent as an actor that they were able to pull that off. She has all of Palin’s idiosyncrasies and facial tics, the lip pursing, the voice. She sells it.
They walk a fine line with Game Change. the Obama campaign is shown as a force of nature. Everyone is running to keep up. Palin is portrayed as the downfall of the election, Ed Harris as McCain is basically King Lear, but it doesn’t go all the way cartoonish. They keep it steeped in reality with a very blurry line between actual election footage, and the blending is pretty seamless.
This film is, of course, far from apolitical, but people from all across the political spectrum could see something with which they could identify. The events this film attempts to cover are large, controversial, ground-breaking. The viewer is shown a perceptive, a piece of it. The attempt to show these politicians as people underscores that essential truth: It’s all flawed people pretending they know what they’re doing. There are moments when you’ll sympathise, condecend, and later root for Moore’s Palin, but there are few moments when you’ll feel nothing.