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‘…something of a time-waster, with an absurd ‘money-solves-everything’ motif…’

If July 6th 2021 is a day that will live in history alongside 9/11 as America on the ropes, the day after feels like the right time to stop and take stock. Irresistible is a US political comedy/satire from former tv host Jon Stewart; it would have been a cinema release last summer, but the pandemic ensured that a straight-to-streaming trajectory resulted. It’s a quaint, old-fashioned, why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along? plea for cross-party understanding, rendered antique by events since. With four dead after the Capitol was stormed by the president’s mob, cinema is left languishing with archaic ideas while today’s barbarians make the news.

2014’s Rosewater showed Stewart to be a film-maker of some talent, but his over-eagerness to straddle partisan lines falls flat here. Steve Carrell does a variation on his too-familiar harassed dad/middle-manager routine as Democratic strategist Gary Zimmer, who is lured in the mayoral race of a sleepy small town where times are hard after the closure of a military base. Zimmer throws in his lot with potential candidate Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) and his daughter Diana (Mackenzie Davis), but his rivalry with Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) escalates the campaign to new expenses and new heights. But are the people of Deerlaken, Wisconsin really on board with Zimmer’s plans? The twist ending here must have seemed smart on paper, but it renders the whole film something of a time-waster, with an absurd ‘money-solves-everything’ motif.

Irresistible is a product of Brad Pitt’s Plan B imprint; when he picked up his Oscar last year, Pitt used the moment to complain that John Bolton testimeny would be published in a commercial book rather than for presented as evidence in the Senate impeachment trial. That might seem like the quaintest of grace notes right now, but it suggests that Pitt believes with a passion that public service should take precedence over making money, and well-meant but dull projects like Irresistible are the result. Unfortunately the sell-by date of the film is remarkably short; in 2021, these coy debates about the tricky business of winning hearts and minds are diminished by seeing politicians scramble to the floor as shots are fired in the Capitol.

I left America in 2016 at the time of, and specifically due to their rise to prominence of Donald Trump; I haven’t been back since my self-imposed exile, and miss my American friends of all political persuasions. But I’ll never touch down at JFK, LAX or any airport to see a portrait of a game-show host looking down at me, and that’s for the best. Political fiction has been left gasping for relevance by the speed and ease by which the US has been unmoored by one man’s personal, self-seeking derangement; it’s time for America to return to greatness again, starting by providing leaders and politicians who will honestly serve the people that that elected them.



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  1. Too many dull-but-worthy films get picked up as vanity projects by big stars. Somebody has to pay for them but it should not be the public. I had not heard of this picture and now you have brought it to my attention I will make an effort to stick it back in the deep recesses of my brain to show i can resist the irresistible. how’s that for will power?

    • Well, it’s probably worth three stars for watchability, but that ending had me toying with a trashing. Out of date from the moment it was filmed.

  2. I concur 101% (and wanted to do the same thing you did, but stayed). Your words are tonic and elixir for what was no epiphany yesterday. When you do return to the states, please consider staying as honored guest at Cailleach Bhur Caer (5 bedrooms, 2 ensuite) in TN. Oh, the discussions we might have.

    • I’ve got a backlog of replies to make, but I’ll jump the queue to book myself in! Can’t wait to see America return as an admired world power and not a one-man tragedy…

  3. I have an iron clad rule of not talking on the internet (which has served me well) but watching my TV yesterday I had tears running down my face. I was flashing back to the night Trump was elected (another night of tears) and thinking in that moment that his presidency would come–could only possibly come– to a bad end. I figured impeachment; turns out I had the right instincts but a lack of imagination. But onto political satire…any that I’ve seen lately just doesn’t quick seem to hit the mark. And I find mostly that I want to use my non-news screen time to escape any thought of current day politics. For me, not the right for political movies….either ones having everyone make nice or biting ones. The fist I am in no mood for and the second cut too close to the bone. The film I’ve thought of at least weekly since 2016 is Idiocracy.

    • Yup, Idiocracy is a prescient text. Smarter people than me wondered in 2016 what the worst was that could happen. But when you have a leader with no principles, and a public who believe what they see on their screens, you have a death tailspin for democracy and America, and they need to move fast to stop literal mob rule.

  4. Yeah, political satire has been left behind by reality during the last four years. It’s like when Vice came out and it just seemed as though the U.S. had already moved so far beyond that quaint sort of delusion. Kind of hard to see where political movies go from here. But not in the direction of Irresistible.

    • Last summer seems like 1954. And I’m wondering whethere do-gooder enterprises like this help at all, or maybe their failure to land any punches is the problem…

      • I don’t think they register much. The problem is that politics has become so polarized it’s a message that doesn’t get through. There’s so much anger out there now.

        • And yet I wonder about the middle ground, and the large amount of the US public that don’t care and don’t vote. I feel that Stewart wants to establish a shared truth, but he’ll need to find a more sophisticated tool than this…

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