Starring: Pete and Chastain and a bunch of other people along the way.
Directed By: Jesse Moss
Where I Watched it: Amazon
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
The Plot: A documentary attempting to chart the meteoric rise of the Mayor of South Bend as he embarks on his quest to become the first openly gay President of the United States.
What Works: Well, the runtime is pretty accessible. Not to insult Pete, but I think a long documentary about him would be a bit much at this point in time. Hopefully, he will continue to be a major player in politics, and future films about him will be able to tackle a wider breadth of his body of work. For now, this documentary works just by attempting to show this little moment in time in Pete’s race to the White House and a look at how it progresses, and the fans he accumulates along the way.
Overall, this remains just a rather upbeat, flattering portrayal, and even though it features a Democratic nominee for President, it doesn’t lay on the political leaning the whole film. There are looks at his home life with Chastain, and many little questions throughout the movie where Pete gets to show a more personal side of himself than perhaps we saw in the town halls and debates (though some of that footage is used as well). I’m not going to say a red state Republican is going to cherish this film, but I found it surprisingly less preachy than the rather similar Running With Beto, and it’s certainly not a Michael Moore movie.
What Doesn’t Work: It’s a movie for the moment. Not that it’s always a bad thing to be a movie of the moment, but when you get further away from his campaign and he’s now just our Secretary of Transportation, and his future as a political candidate is unknown. It becomes a challenge to take a look at this film and say this will be relevant in ten years, or twenty. He may be an amazing man of our moment, but he’s still no Harvey Milk, or any other historical figure whose story has transcended time.
So the biggest problem with Mayor Pete is that the further we get from the election cycle, the less interesting this film is, and the less it will be remembered in the pantheon of documentaries.
I admit that I like Pete. I would have voted for him had he not already dropped out. But even i felt like this documentary was so incredibly flattering, like there wasn’t a single stone to be unturned to show us something about Pete we didn’t already know. It was a look behind a curtain, but that curtain was already in the public eye, so what did I really learn? Nothing.
The Blind perspective: Since it is an Amazon original, they did put audio description here, which is nice. It almost adds a narrator into a documentary that is missing one, and narrators are somewhat common in this genre, at least more consistently than any other genre.
Final Thoughts: I feel the same way, basically, about this film that I did with Running With Beto. A look at a popular candidate at just the right moment, that history will judge whether or not this new and interesting entry is of long term significance or not. But while the iron is hot, it you like Pete, you’ll probably like this. If you’re not on that voting side of things, I don’t know if there’s anything here for you.
Final Grade: B-