Celebrated documentarian Greg Barker’s latest endeavour offers quite remarkable, unprecedented access in to the inner mechanics of US politics, presenting an intriguing look into the very final year of the Barack Obama administration, as they prepare to leave power. Though spiked, persistently, with a foreboding sense of futility, at the very least this film makes for a hugely informative, educational piece of cinema.
Though spending a fair amount of time at the White House, the majority of this title is centred around the foreign policy team during their final year in office. We closely follow Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power in particular, as they travel the world, meeting leaders and influential people in a bid to heighten and enrich already established relations with other nations, some to build bridges, and some to sustain them. They’re firmly of the opinion that following Obama will be Hilary Clinton, as they strive to leave their tenure by allowing the future President of the United States a comfortable, seamless move into her deserved position.
Of course, we now know that tragically wasn’t to be, and this makes for a poignant, profound feature, that has an overwhelming sense of futility prevalent throughout. All of this hard work, and all of these encouraging meetings and visits, only for it to be dismantled and devalued in 140 characters by the now POTUS, Donald Trump. That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom and we celebrate the legacy this administration has left behind, and one we’re staggeringly nostalgic about already.
Distancing the film from the tumultuous, current political landscape in the United States, from a filmmaking point of view this is a worthy production, as we learn so much about the inner workings of the system, and exactly what the foreign policy team do on a day-to-day basis (and believe me, it doesn’t look like an easy job). We get to know Kerry and Power well, humanising those otherwise seen as robots in the media, infallible politicians suddenly made to be, well, fallible.
However there is one big criticism of this pice, and that’s the distinct lack of Obama himself. The access is unprecedented, but the access doesn’t allow much of the President, so if you’re wanting your Obama fix, something we all need right now, be warned, you won’t quite get that here.