Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Movie Review: "The Congressman" (2016)

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Movie"The Congressman"
Director: Jared Martin & Robert Mrazek
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Congressman Charlie Winship (Treat Williams) gets caught up in a political scandal when he fails to rise for the pledge of allegiance at the start of a session. He is becoming burnt out by the big money and lobbying involved in politics, but has his passion revitalized when he finds a cause worth fighting for. 

"The Congressman" is written by Robert Mrazek, who also co-directed the film along with Jared Martin. It stars Treat Williams as Maine Congressman Charlie Winship. Winship gets caught in a controversy when he is filmed not standing for the pledge of allegiance one morning at the opening of session. His political opponents start to call the Vietnam war veteran's patriotism into question because of this. Winship also has more problems mounting as he has just finalized his divorce, has just accidentally broken a fellow Congressman's nose following a basketball game, and is just growing weary of all of the lobbyists, Super PACs, and back-room wheeling and dealing that occurs in Washington DC. Needless to say, he is burnt out on American politics. He does, however, get his spirit reinvigorated when he finds a cause worth fighting for in a small lobster fishing village in his district.

This is a movie that puts a spotlight on the American political system and the problems within it, which couldn't be more relevant today. It shows how politicians live life day to day as everything they do is scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb. It shows how one bad day or how out of context words and actions can become a political scandal they are forced to defend. Of course, most politicians are used to this, and more often than not are already doing something bad, but "The Congressman" explains how one person can have their passion quelled by hush-hush back-room dealings and lobbyists who they have to bend and beg to in order to keep getting reelected. It also examines what free speech really means, and even if it is seen by some as dishonorable, this right includes not standing for the pledge of allegiance.

The way "The Congressman" is shot does make it feel like it is made for TV, like an extended episode of a political drama a la "Madam Secretary." This is an independent film, and we don't say this as a bad thing, but some viewers may feel that the quality is a little different when compared to films made for mass theatrical release. Luckily, there are good enough performances and a fairly engaging story about understanding things from different perspectives, which is a crucial message in our current political climate. It is a timely movie in that aspect since it constantly feels like our country and its political advocates are spinning out of control. Unlike the real wold, unfortunately, when Charlie Winship gives a rousing speech towards the end of the film, more people learn to see it his way. If we could only be so lucky.

Overall, despite its made-for-TV feel and a couple of romantic cliches, "The Congressman " is a satisfactory watch for those who like political dramas and humanistic types of stories. Treat Williams gives an solid performance as a politician at the end of his rope, and the overall story is interesting enough that we never felt bored or annoyed.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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