What’s most baffling about the excruciating Mitt is that Greg Whiteley had an incredible 6 years of behind-the-curtain access to the Mitt Romney campaign and emerged with little more than a chronological collection of the least-boring moments before public appearances. No real insight, no real suspense and no real emotion comes across. There’s a smattering of nervous laughs, a few seconds of hand-wringing and the exasperated expressions of Anne Romney seems a bit annoyed that the White House keys aren’t just being handed to her.
She and her kids make it very clear that they think God is on their side.
Sadly, God is about all they’ve got. The parts of the story that gripped the media and electorate during the campaign are nowhere to be found.
Poll numbers aren’t really mentioned until the final moments, the astronomical post-first-debate bump in poll numbers don’t factor in, nor do those numbers revealing themselves to be statistical flotsam and jetsam. Anne Romney’s damaging interview with Robin Roberts where she bitchily snapped “we’ve told you people all we need to tell you about our finical situation” isn’t there.
We don’t hear him once address his unwillingness to disclose his tax returns and the majority’s assumption that was because he’d actually paid no taxes for 10 years and hid most of his money abroad. His history as the head of Bane Capitol that sent countless jobs to Asia and left poverty and unemployment in it’s wake… not brought up. Nor is his gushing about the slave labour working conditions in Asia as if they’re a good thing that America should try to adopt.
There’s also no mention of the political hair-kari that Republicans were committing with phrases like “legitimate rape.” It’s like his campaign existed in a vacuum, unaware of the raging culture and class war that devoured the election.
Social issues barely get a head nod here. Romney’s Mormonism is featured but never really discussed as the albatross around his neck that it was… After the passage of Proposition 8 and the bitter fight to repeal it in 2008 and into 2013, the word “Mormon” was a social short fuse. Not in Mitt.
Instead, Mitt spends the bulk of it’s 90 minutes showing the boring, mundane conversations about nothing that happen in the Romney residence and in hotel rooms before Mitt Romney went out to play Politician in front of a crowd for six years.
We see him ironing his shirt while still wearing it, we see him fixing his tie and eating lunch from a plastic container. We see him laughing at comedy tapes and hugging his grand kids. There’s a few interviews with family members that reference how “this is too much, this is too hard,” but what they’re actually referring to seems to have been left on the cutting room floor. It gives the viewer the impression that this is a very rich family who haven’t really had to work for much of anything and when expected to work long hours on a thankless task, feel like nobody can understand what that’s like.
There are a few creepy moments with the family on their knees around hotel furniture while Anne starts to pray in a strange, affected attempt at Old English or Mitt loses his temper after not performing well in the second debate (and blaming it angrily on Candy Crowley). But those are few and far between.
What’s lacking is politics. Really. This is a documentary about a political campaign where issues don’t really come into play until Romney is forced to write his concession speech and he predicts the end of the American economy in “five years.”
We never really get to see any actual discussions about policy, we don’t see why he wanted to run or thought he’d be a good president. We don’t really see anything other than him back stage before putting on performances, and it’s very clear that we’re watching a performance. The real Mitt Romney shown in this movie is and uptight, nervous, submissive husband to his tough girl wife who comes across most of the time as less of a spouse and more of a pushy stage mother.
The real Mitt Romney still stays a bit of an enigma.
What exactly his positions were… what he thought. We never really see him step out of his awkward Father Knows Best drag. The famous 47% comment is grazed over in a couple seconds and dismissed, the more shocking facts of the campaign we found out right after the election aren’t mentioned at all… the fact that his staff’s credit cards were all cancelled before the night was over and they found they had to pay for their own cabs and hotel meals out of their own pockets… that the Romney campaign had spent a fortune on fireworks to celebrate his victory that never came… those aren’t mentioned at all.
While Mitt attempts to paint Romney as a not-so-bad guy, he ends up coming across like a nervous, giggling, phony rich guy trying to come across as human to the people he knows nothing about, cares little for and yet needs to vote for him.
Which… well, that’s pretty much what most people thought of him, anyway.