Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, underwent tremendous challenges to his ideology and identity through both of his presidential campaigns; however “Mitt,” a new documentary by Greg Whiteley, attempts to paint him with a vivacious and passionate light.
The film begins with a haunting realization as Mitt Romney, along with his closest advisers and family, asks the question, “What do you think you say in a concession speech?” Romney’s renown cool (perhaps leading many to presume he was robotic and unrelatable in his presidential campaigns) in asking this very disenchanting question fades to six years prior as he is playing with his family in the snow.
The stark contrast functions as a beautiful cinematic tool to display Romney the candidate, professional executive and robot as somewhat disingenuous to Romney the father, husband and human being.
The movie is riddled with a human look at the Romney’s ideology. From passionate family prayer sessions to Ann and Mitt having a serious conversation about how the other side just doesn’t seem to understand the struggles of small business owners, the documentary makes great strides in attempting to understand the former governor.
His impeccable hair, always perfectly coiffed, resembled his seeming rote and robotic nature. Viewers get a charming behind-the-scenes look at his relationship with his wife when she playfully tousled his hair after one of his debates, indicating his job well done.
A heartwarming moment in the documentary occurs when the entire Romney family — Ann, Mitt and their nearly innumerable amount of sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren all sit in one of the Romney’s retreat homes discussing the pros and cons of running for President in 2008. One of his sons remarks that he must run because he has the capability to win and spread positive values and change.
While Romney may have been robotized on the left for a variety of his views or actions, the documentary paints a picture of Romney as an individual deeply striving for the same type of recognition and impact that any other elected official embodies.
History would soon reveal that not even Romney’s massive wealth nor impressive resume could capture him the Republican nomination in 2008 nor the White House in 2012. We are given a different, far more embattled, yet passionate view of Romney in “Mitt.”
After the second presidential debate that swung the election balance tentatively in President Barack Obama’s favor, Romney was frustrated, lashing out behind closed doors at the debate’s moderator, Candy Crowley, and appearing dejected at his perceived loss.
The infamous “binders full of women” comment rings as a loud indicator of a passionate man caught up in a semantic storm that he could just not escape.
Romney’s personal evolution was often called in to question throughout his campaign, by members of his own and of the opposing party, as appearing far too politically expedient to be mere coincidence. This “flip-flopping Mormon” title, as Romney himself refers to it on the campaign trail, caused great consternation within the candidate. He wondered aloud if people were no longer able to change their views on issues, as though ideological evolution was impossible.
“Mitt” is an enlightening film that shows the true nature of political candidates and the toll and personal frustration that is often witnessed behind the scenes. While the presidential campaign painted Romney the candidate as robotic and out of touch, one could hardly help but feel sympathy for Romney the person.
“Mitt” premiered on Jan. 24 and is available to stream on Netflix.
You can reach the A&E editor at jwwoodma@asu or follow him on Twitter @jonwwoodmansee