Released on Jan. 24, the Netflix original documentary “Mitt” offers an intimate view of former Gov. Mitt Romney’s two presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012. The given tagline of the documentary reads: “Whatever side you’re on, see another side.”
The documentary starts at the end of the 2012 election when the Romney campaign realizes there is little chance they will win the election, and Mitt Romney says, “How do you write a concession speech?” The film then goes back to 2008 when Mitt Romney decided to run. This film conveys the familial aspect of a presidential campaign, and thus, the story begins with a family meeting to discuss whether or not Mitt Romney should run for president.
Filmmaker Greg Whiteley silently tagged along behind the governor since 2006, compiling footage for the film without being intrusive. Only a few times did he prompt family members with questions.
Time magazine TV critic James Poniewozik was able to view the film before its release in January.
“(‘Mitt’ is) telling a more personal, apolitical story: that running for President is rough, even for highly successful, well-insulated people and their families,” Poniewozik wrote in a review of the documentary.
Netflix’s main goal with this documentary was not to sway or present any sort of political views, and they do an outstanding job. There is no narration in this film at all, which is the presumed first step in remaining neutral by letting the footage maintain control over any sort of storytelling. This documentary contains only footage of the campaign behind the scenes. Most of the footage shown is how Mitt Romney talks and interacts with his family, without strategy or political views.
The film aims to present the toll that running a campaign takes on a family. Toward the end of the film, you are able to recognize all of the Romneys, and you learn intimate details of their life, such as Ann Romney’s little-known battle with multiple sclerosis. You are able to watch the weight of the task Mitt Romney is taking on affect his family in many areas of their life.
“Mitt” does a wonderful job of helping viewers foster pseudo-relationships with members of the Romney family during the time of the two presidential campaigns.
What the film lacks in artistic qualities found in many recent documentaries, it makes up with its minimalist approach to storytelling. No, this film will not persuade you to vote a certain way, but it will offer a new and accurate portrayal of a human whose identity was constructed primarily by slanted media outlets.
The underlying principal of the film is the emphasis and importance of familial support in all facets of life. In this specific manifestation, the Romney political campaigns serve as a frame story for this premise, not the main story itself.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I believe its biggest strength is its staunch neutrality. Netflix gains nothing if this film shows any sort of partisanship, and they remain unflinchingly non-partisan throughout the film. A good way to view this film is with the understanding of its presentation of Mitt Romney as a human with a family, not a politician. Check it out.