Starring Matthew Mabe, Woodwyn Koons, Alek Friedman, Basil Stephens, Alicia Harding, Jennifer Brown, Krista Kujat, T. Sahara Meer, Trevor Murphy, Joe Schiappa, Damien Smith, Wayne Price, Robert O’Gorman, Matthew Korahais, Mike De Seve, John Lake, Michael Moore, George W Bush, George HW Bush and Al Franken.
Screenplay by Mora Stephens and Joel Viertel.
Directed by Mora Stephens.
Distributed by Hyphenate Films. 95 minutes. Not Rated.
In modern America, the political divide has become deeper and more vicious than at any time in memory. Once upon a time, people would consider a mixed marriage to be different religions. Now it seems nearly impossible to imagine that a relationship could grow and prosper in the shadow of the blue state/red state divide.
Conventioneers steeps itself in this rancorous rift; presenting an opposites-attract relationship in the midst of historical reality – the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.
This is the story of Lea Jones (Woodwyn Koons), a pretty thirtyish Democrat activist from Connecticut in town to protest and David Massey (Matthew Mabe), a handsome Texas conservative who is there to participate. They were friends – with a lingering sexual tension that they never acted on – back in college at Dartmouth. He is married. She is engaged.
They meet up for coffee and are immediately offended by each others’ political beliefs. However, the lingering attraction and the amped-up energy of their missions lead them into an ill-conceived love/hate affair.
All of this is set in the midst of some real historical footage of the RNC. One of the actors here even was the sign-language translator for Bush’s keynote speech, leading to some fascinating scenes where the staunchly Democratic signer has a personal crisis as to whether he should endanger his job by making a political stand on the stage.
This real footage gives the film a very realistic vibe. In fact, I have to admit for the first five minutes or so I wasn’t quite sure whether or not this was a documentary.
It’s kind of obvious that writer director Stephens sides with the blue states, but that does not color her judgment completely, characters on both sides do stupid, hurtful things both professionally and personally.
Interestingly, though, throughout most of the film the Republican man seems to be the more open-minded of the couple, appearing to process and really consider the valid arguments of the other side. This is blown away in the last few scenes though, where David does a complete about face and commits a stunning act of betrayal. You’re not sure if he was always two-faced or if it was just a matter of a spurned lover, however the viciousness of his last monologue makes you question everything he ever said or did – and whether we will ever all be able to get along. (10/06)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 20, 2006.