The American President

The American President (1995) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Rob Reiner Cast: Michael DouglasAnnette BeningMartin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, Richard Dreyfuss, Samantha Mathis

I had not seen this film in years, but what better excuse to revisit it and fantasise about what the American presidency should be like than Biden’s Inauguration Day, which only happened a few hours ago?I remember having a very soft spot for this film and watching it tonight I was surprised by how much it still holds up, both in terms of pacing (great editing, snappy dialogue) and relevance (all the talks about gun control and the environment for example). And you know what? I loved it once again!! So much so that I had to restrain myself from giving it 5 stars. It is not just a thoroughly enjoyable film, beautifully and warmly filmed, but it’s also the inspiration for “the West Wing”, which to this day is still one of my favourite TV series ever made.

The film, just like the series, is written by Aaron Sorkin and you can tell straight away: all the elements that made the series so compelling are here (with an extra layer of lush Hollywood coating): the walk-and-talk scenes along the corridors of the White House, the snappy banters, that behind-the-scenes feel, peering though those meetings in the Oval Office, all the political jargon which you just about get the gist of it, the same sort of deadpan jokes among the staff and even the same sort of characters (mostly played by people who will eventually appear in the “West Wing” itself, including of course Martin Sheen, who in this film plays the role of the chief of stuff, slightly disconcerting if you’ve know the tv series as well as I do): the press secretary (here too a woman), the speech writers (MichealJ Fox clearly a precursor of Rob Lowe’s character in the series, Sam Seaborn) and so on… And all that is without even mentioning the music score which feels like it could explode in the theme from the TV series any moment.

And then of course, because this is a Hollywood film from the 90s, you’ve got the love story, which however cheesy and bit corny, it is also beautifully and very sweetly played by a magnificent Annette Bening and a super-charming Michael Douglas (in fact he’s the most likeable he’s ever been). In fact politics and the West-Wing aside, this is first and foremost a romantic comedy.All the characters (a stellar cast) have great chemistry with one another and it’s not surprising when you see who’s the director orchestrating it all: Rob Reiner, the same man behind two of my favourite movies “Stand by Me” and “When Harry Met Sally” (but also “A Few Good Men”, “Mysery” and of course “This is Spinal Tap”).So to conclude, yes, it’s a bit sentimental and of course it’s a fairy tale, but it’s also the equivalent of a nice cosy, warm bath, the kind of movies, Billy Wilder or Frank Capra used to make and that they don’t make anymore.

Well believe me, they should start again!

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