20 September 2003 | bob the moo
Very much a tv movie, but less glossy than expected
Taking the events of September 11th as it's foundation, the film tells the tale of Rudy Giuliani's rise up the political ladder, his hard-line stance as Attorney and Mayor of New York. It also shows his affairs and the breakdown of his marriage despite the strength of the man in times of testing.
As will now be an annual event, the television companies all rolled out films and documentaries on the 2nd anniversary of 9/11. The main commercial station's choice was this sort of bio-pic of Rudy Giuliani with the focus on September 11th widening to take in the 15 or so years prior to that moment. The manner of structuring the film in this way means that it could have been a flag waving salute to a man who become world famous (or more famous!) on that day. However, despite cutting back and forth, the majority of the film occurs before the attack. I found the attack scenes hard to watch as I was watching a film for entertainment I suppose this was unavoidable, but I don't like seeing the pictures too often in case they stop shocking me and I get used to them.
The back story to Giuliani is interesting as I admired his stance on crime when he was Mayor. I didn't know a lot of detail of his career as I'm not in the US but the film delivered a simplified version to good effect. Surprisingly the film didn't gloss it's subject too often and wasn't afraid to show his affairs, his tempers of his right wing views. This made it feel more worthwhile although the TV production values do make it feel a little tacky at times.
Woods does pretty well to hold the screen for the whole film and not spin Rudy o be too sleazy or too heroic. I felt that he was a little animated for Rudy at times, as I always had the impression of him publicly as more controlled. The support cast (including Penelope Ann Miller) are all pretty good but do tend to seem more at home in TV land than Woods does.
Overall this was an interesting film, even if it is very much a snapshot and is driven by Woods rather than the wider story. The framing of the story by 9/11 works well to set up the story, despite the strange feeling of seeing the real footage inserted into a movie in this way.