“Mitt,” a Netflix original documentary released on Jan. 24, follows the two failed presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney. The film was promoted with the tagline: “Whatever side you’re on, see another side.”
As an open Obama supporter, I felt that the film accomplished its goal.
Producer Greg Whiteley humanizes the two-time presidential candidate by focusing less on Romney as a politician and more on Romney as a family man. This unique lens that Romney is shown through caused me to find him rather likable regardless of my differing political beliefs.
The role of Romney’s family as his key advisors and supporters is shown from the beginning. A scene from 2006 shows a family meeting, where the group weighs the pros and cons of Romney running in the 2008 election. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit at Romney’s daughter-in-law’s response:
“Well, a con? You would be the president.”
She’s right. It’s hard to imagine the stress involved in the road it takes to get to the Oval Office as well as eventually becoming the leader of the free world. So, all politics aside, Romney gets major respect from me just for running.
When asked if she would want to see her husband run again in 2012 after losing the primaries of 2008, Ann said, “I think I need to write myself some notes as to why I would not want to do that again…The answer’s no. It’s too much.”
Romney must live by the motto “If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” because the film flashes forward four years to Romney accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Although I know Romney’s story ends in defeat, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the emotion in the days leading up to Nov. 6, 2012.
I thought some of the most valuable parts of the film were those that showed Romney’s moments of uncertainty and insecurity the public wouldn’t otherwise see. Like how Romney taps his feet in anxiety before he walks into the Oct. 3 Presidential debate against Barack Obama. Or how the night of the 2012 election, he cleans his hotel room nervously while listening to the poll updates.
The time he spends with his family truly give a glimpse into the man Romney truly is. On the campaign trail, he sits gathered with his family around plastic to-go boxes of fries and sandwiches listening to a humorous NPR episode of “This American Life.”
Whiteley also shows us some laugh-out-loud moments. I got a kick out of watching Romney attempt to iron his own suit while wearing it, with Romney simply stating,“Ouch.” I also giggled at the South Carolina natives on the 2008 campaign trail with who couldn’t answer the question “Do you know who Mitt Romney is?”
Then there are the inevitable not-so-funny moments. The night of the 2012 election shows Romney in a hotel room, surrounded by loved ones. Tears well up in his granddaughter’s eyes as he asks the room, “So what do you say in a concession speech?”
Although I wish it included more elements of the campaign beyond that of the role Romney’s family played, I felt like this documentary gave a wide range of emotions that occurred behind the scenes. Overall, I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in viewing a look into life on the campaign trail.
If you were a strong Romney supporter, you will probably want a box of Kleenex nearby, but if you didn’t consider yourself a Romney fan before, prepare to “see another side.”