Film review: Death of a President

Death of a President
FilmFour, Borough Films

STARRING Hend Ayoub, Brian Boland, Becky Ann Baker
WRITTEN BY Gabriel Range, Simon Finch
PRODUCED BY Gabriel Range, Simon Finch, Ed Guiney, Robin Gutch
DIRECTED BY Gabriel Range

SHOT BY Graham Smith
EDITED BY Brand Thumim
MUSIC BY Richard Harvey
DISTRIBUTED BY Optimum Releasing, Newmarket Films

Screened on 2006-10-19

On October 19, 2007, Gabriel Range posits that President George W. Bush could be assassinated outside a hotel in Chicago. Brit TV journalist Range again experiments with “historical retrospective fiction” by creating this faux-documentary which pretends to be an actual documentary released in 2008, chronicling the president’s assassination. Range deftly combines recent protest footage from Chicago, a real speech Bush gave there, and faked interviews with actors playing the FBI and Secret Service to create a convincing illusion – if you don’t follow politics as closely as he does. As a fictitious documentary, Range succeeds. Beyond that…

The idea of the film is to illustrate the way our government operates when Terror hits home, almost like injecting a blood stream with dye to track its flow throughout the body. The problem? Simply, if you’ve lived in this country for the past five years, the perspectives this film offers are absolutely nothing new. Range would not have been able to receive funding for his film in the States, and viewed from here, the film is a regurgitation. Perhaps this film is best suited for non-Americans. At times it is quite gripping, reminding us that no matter how much criticism we may doll out at our leader, an event of this magnitude involves every one of us. But – Range’s grip eventually eases, and the viewer is left wondering, “Wait – why was Range just squeezing me? Gosh. Well I certainly didn’t appreciate that.” Perhaps Death would’ve worked better as a television special, or a short film, or simply a short story, because that’s exactly how it feels – a mildly interesting idea without an ending; a concept. A concept of supreme magnitude that starts at a sprint and tires itself out to a modest meander, Death is guilty of sensationalism parading as melodrama, and worse, of pretending to be fictionally interesting while really being merely topical – and worse, being topical without direction. Range is hereby sentenced to remain at least five years away from Narrative Fiction, until he grows mature enough to manipulate it accordingly.

written by David Ashley

My interview participation with Gabriel Range