Our Brand Is Crisis (Documentary)
C Sound: C Extras: B- Documentary: B-
enduring system of the current nation-state is progressive Democratic
Capitalism long after The Soviet Union collapsed and dozens of countries
followed, but the circumstances it takes for that to be possible include a
certain combination of integrity, wealth and civil rights. Emerging markets (aka The Third World) and
Second-World countries are not necessarily as equipped to have that
system. Rachel Boynton’s documentary Our Brand Is Crisis (2005) tells us the
story of how U.S. political advisors were hired to help the incumbent president
of Bolivia stay in power.
decide to use a form of fear (thus the title) to sell Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada
as the candidate for stability and to change to someone else (12 are running
for the position in all, but the focus here becomes the top 3 candidates) might
make a somewhat miserable situation worse.
There are ups and downs during the campaign and Boynton quietly asks if
this is morally a good idea. That is a
legitimate question, but it turns out the electorate is not as vegetative as
that of the U.S. and their campaign strategy becomes a self-fulfilling
is very sensitive to detail and this is a very well made work, with exceptional
pacing, editing and impact of how the events shake down. After a brutal opening, the rest of the
documentary shows how things build up to the boiling point. James Carville is with Jeremy Rosner and
company in plotting how to best get their man in. Despite their knowledge and experience, the
over-reliance on technical statistics feels more like a music act following a Billboard chart than anyone paying
attention to the people. That
insensitivity figure and miscommunication within the camp also reminds us of
the same kind of anger and carelessness too many U.S. campaigns offer. Our
Brand Is Crisis is a nice change-of-pace from the (however earned or not)
“Bash Bush” cycle of political documentaries that says some important things
that will outlast many of its contemporaries.
I wish it went on longer.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is softer than usual, in part because
this footage was shot on low-def digital and with the budget, is lucky to look
as good as it does on this DVD now. The
Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is simple stereo at best and sometimes lower in its
transfer than it should be or just has the occasional location recording flaw. Under the circumstances, this plays well
enough. Extras include the original
trailer and exceptional feature-length audio commentary by Boynton.
- Nicholas Sheffo