The War Room (1993)
Before presidential campaign documentaries were a regular fixture a year after the election, there was Chris Hegedus’ and D.A. Pennebaker’s The War Room, shot in the cinéma vérité style.Following the Bill Clinton presidential campaign with the 1992 Democratic primaries up to the general election against President George H.W. Bush, the film primarily focuses Communications Director George Stephanopoulos (now This Week's anchor on ABC) and lead strategist James Carville (now pundit on CNN) as they talk politics, eat way too much junk food, drink too much beer, and fret over every little contingency. The totality of emotional exhaustion a presidential campaign brings is seen on the faces of the two staffers as well as everybody else's mindsets become that more frayed as November draw near.
Though not particularly insightful or terribly revealing on how presidential campaigns work on a grassroots level, the Carville-Stephanopoulos dynamic makes everything worthwhile. Stephanopoulos, in his calm demeanor fit for a Sunday talk show host, wheedles his way to organize supporters and donors over numerous phone calls and fights political fires when scandal arises (the Gennifer Flowers controversy in particular). Meanwhile, Carville’s “Ragin’ Cajun” moniker is in full force - he curses, he talk too much, wears a bunch of LSU apparel, and he whiffs off jokes that one would rather expect in a crass screwball comedy. The dynamic is united for their man, as are all the other staffers in the office. It’s draining work. And we’re drained just watching them get drained.
My rating: 7/10
^ Based on my personal imdb rating.