On Friday, January 24, Netflix released Mitt — a documentary by filmmaker Greg Whiteley that follows Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 failed bids for the United States presidency (view the trailer here). Much of Mitt feels like a well-shot home movie, as the documentary presents an up-close and personal perspective of the Romney family as they travel across the country, campaigning for the White House. Scenes of prayer, jubilation and tears provide a stark view of the ups-and-downs that come with running for public office.
To begin the film, the documentarian shows the two most powerful scenes of the entire movie — and the two moments that best bookend Romney’s presidential aspirations. The first is the initial Romney family discussion surrounding Mitt’s decision to run in 2006. The most impassioned plea to run comes from Mitt’s eldest son, Tagg. With tears welling up in his eyes, Tagg says, “If you don’t win, we’ll still love you. The country may think of you as a laughingstock, and we’ll know the truth, and that’s OK. But I think you have a duty to your country and to God to see what comes of it.” In a film full of personal moments, this one rises above the rest as the decisive moment in Mitt’s decision to run. The second scene captures the moment when Romney finally realizes the will lose the 2012 election. Watching the realization of defeat set in on the Romney’s faces is an excruciating experience for the viewer, regardless of political affiliation.
If Mitt achieves one thing other than portray the soft side of Mitt Romney, it shows the painful realities of presidential campaigns. Not only is life on the trail physically draining — filled with rallies, fundraisers, and enough red-eye flights to clear the eye-drop aisle at Costco —, it’s also emotionally draining on a candidate and his / her family. The emotional investment in campaigns of such magnitude is deep and has the potential to rip apart families like so much tissue paper. It would behoove any aspirant candidate to watch Mitt and learn from the hardships his family faced.
Verdict: Mitt is an interesting documentary that any political junkie will enjoy. Finally, it show the human side of a candidate many Americans thought robotic.
—Davis Parker is a junior studying political science, history and mathematics
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