Death of a Pres­i­dent

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Sandy Ge­orge

EX­TRAS: In­ter­views with the film­mak­ers; trailer

Road­show ( fea­ture runs 87 min­utes) $ 39.95

THIS film plays with your mind: it is about the events sur­round­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion of Ge­orge W. Bush in Chicago on Oc­to­ber 19, 2007, so it must be fiction, but it takes the form of a high- qual­ity in­ter­view­based doc­u­men­tary so au­then­ti­cally that what is be­ing seen and heard seems far from be­ing made up. Be­fore the film was re­leased, a black- and- white pho­to­graph of Bush be­ing shot was pub­lished across the world. Much was writ­ten and said about the photo and the way tech­nol­ogy has de­stroyed pho­to­jour­nal­ism, and a lot of it was in very ou­traged voices. Partly be­cause of that pho­to­graph, the de­pic­tion of the as­sas­si­na­tion is much an­tic­i­pated and, when it comes, it is dis­ap­point­ing. It doesn’t mea­sure up to the clar­ity of the still im­age, which is not in the film, and it hap­pens so fast. But once the shoot­ing has hap­pened, about one- third of the way in, the film shifts fo­cus to the sus­pected per­pe­tra­tors and moves into top gear. In­stead of be­ing dis­trac­tions, the film’s ex­tra­or­di­nary vis­ual clev­er­ness, the ex­em­plary act­ing and the no­tion of the world’s most pow­er­ful leader be­ing killed work to­gether to cre­ate an in­trigu­ing por­trait of how civil lib­er­ties and jus­tice come sec­ond to na­tional se­cu­rity and the rush to make judg­ments and at­tribute blame. As di­rec­tor Gabriel Range says in the DVD ex­tras, a cat­a­clysmic event makes you take stock, and that is ex­actly what this film does: it is a blinkers- off look at con­tem­po­rary Amer­ica at the po­lit­i­cal level.

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