The War Room (1993) - Rotten Tomatoes

The War Room (1993)

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A look inside the 1992 presidential race, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hedgus' documentary The War Room explores the backstage side of national politics by examining the day-to-day operations of Bill Clinton's campaign staff. The behind-the-scenes leader of the group is James Carville, the demonstrative, charismatic campaign manager who relies on a plain-speaking manner and emotional appeals to motivate his subordinates. He is complemented by the quieter, smoother personality and photogenic looks of young press spokesman George Stephanopoulous. The filmmakers follow these two contrasting personalities from the January New Hampshire primary to Clinton's eventual victory, as they attempt to cling to an overall strategic plan while dealing with unforeseen problems and negative press, as their candidate is saddled with accusations of adultery and draft-dodging. Subplots include the rivalries between Democratic campaign staffs -- which can become amusingly petty, as when they accuse each other of tearing down campaign posters -- and the romantic relationship between Carville and Mary Matalin, chief strategist for George Bush's campaign. Co-director D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop, Don't Look Back, Primary) is renowned as an innovator in the use of cinema-verite, used here to show both the mundane complications and the emotional highlights of the modern political process.

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Critic Reviews for The War Room

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (4)

It's a testament to the supreme skills of Hegedus and Pennebaker that they managed to craft a film that so easily could have gone astray.

December 28, 2012 | Rating: A | Full Review…

It's so intoxicating that sometimes it's easy forget we are, in effect, watching a couple of pitch men selling that year's newest brand of soap.

May 1, 2012 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Illustrates in often amusing detail how the Clinton team managed to overcome petty hostilities and seize the day -- and the White House.

April 25, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Politics as sporting event run by wonks. Fascinating but repellent in trademark Pennebaker-Hegedus fashion.

October 4, 2006 | Full Review…

An invaluable record of Bill Clinton's unlikely rise to the White House.

December 4, 2002 | Rating: 4/5

A top documentary; behind the scenes at how a political campaign is run.

August 22, 2002 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for The War Room

Whats interesting is that the film is less of a story of Clinton's '92 Presidential Campaign, and more of a character study of James Carville and George Stephanopolous who organized (and arguably won) the race for Bill Clinton. The makers of this documentary were given remarkably close access to some very private moments and they capture the serious ups and down for the behind the scenes workers. Really whats most intriguing is the marriage of Carville to Mary Matalin, who was one of the top members of Bush's '92 Re-election campaign. There are some great cuts back and forth between Matalin and Carville bashing the others political party to the media.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

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