10 July 2012 | alexandra-magearu
A Radical Take on Contemporary American Political and Private Issues
Political Disasters is a remarkably complex and brutally honest portrayal of the political and social ethos of the turn of the millennium United States - a period of confusion, of great ruptures, disappointments and failures, but also a transitional phase marked by the reconstitution of traditional values and beliefs. This oscillation between failure and the desire for reconstitution and self-renewal seems to establish the dynamic of the film and traces the individual characters' paths throughout the film. Political Disasters will upturn the viewer's expectations in that it is not your typical Hollywood-like mono-narrative disaster movie. It is an experimental weaving of various narratives following the private lives of the members of two interrelated families and their failures to cope with pre-established social expectations, their breakdowns in communication and their own failing fantasies. The film is all the more interesting since it projects these private familial dramas in the larger political and ideological context of the turn of the millennium US, detailing essential events such as the threat of the Y2K virus (which created an almost religious end-of-the-world anxiety in the face of possible technological collapse), the Bush vs. Gore debatable election results, as well as the severe impact of the 9/11 attacks. With satyric overtones at times and sympathetic portrayals of the characters' confusion and feelings of displacement, Political Disasters successfully manages to draw attention to some of the possible flaws in ideology that have marked the gradual collapse of confidence in contemporary American society and politics: a lingering fervent religiosity interwoven with racism, isolation, ressentiment and a fierce conservatism; Hollywood-inspired idealism and the faith in such notions as the perfect love and the perfect other; the unidimensional approach of large businesses concerned only with reductionism and expansion; the disintegrating traditional American home splintered by dishonesty, failures to correspond to ideal expectations and a loss of meaning. Despite the bare and disheartening image that the film seems to capture through its various conflicts and moments of collapse, there is however, in the end, a positive sense of reaching out towards new possibilities, of going against deep-set values and forming one's own ideas of the world. All in all, Political Disasters is a must-see for every American (but certainly not restricted to the American public) who seeks to understand his or her role within the complex web of political and social discourses in contemporary United States.