1990s politics. It makes for great movies and television.
Blair and Clinton etc.
But it’s THAT Lewinsky scandal that still wins the most attention. AMERICAN CRIME STORY:IMPEACHMENT shows why that is the case. This is not just lurid reconstruction for its own sake. It is a character study and a revisionist historical source.
The payoff / bad news? It is a very slow burn. But you get rewards aplenty by episode 3 when the events really kick off. Beanie Feldstein is a revelation. She truly captures the vulnerability of Monica but also her inner strength and determination. It is a studied, subtle, endearing, moving, comic and tragic character portrait.
Sarah Paulson does not have an easy task in terms of somehow capturing Linda Tripp’s ambition and even opportunism, yet once again, somehow, integrating a clear strain of humanity with which one can sympathise. Mission: accomplished, all the same.
It’s great to see Cobie Smulders escape the bonds of the Marvel franchise films and she really gets her teeth into the role of Ann Coulter.
I mentioned Tony Blair in my intro and do not wish to mislead. He is not ‘in’ the series as such but gets a funny name-check. Twice. It’s quite the in joke/’Easter egg’, imho. Btw: if you do want more of Blair/Clinton, check out THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP (2010; Michael Sheen and Dennis Quaid: a must see!).
CLIVE OWEN is a revelation here. He captures Bill Clinton’s manner and physicality without simply doing an impression of the man. Complexity is there in the face and the timing. As in: this was not a malicious predator but more a man with a kind of sexual gambling habit, who thrived on risk and romantic endeavour. That he gets emmeshed in his own self made web is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions and to some extent, he deserved what he himself had designed as a fate? But that cannot diminish an essential core of good, decency and political /intellectual competence. This show, and especially via Clive’s acting, manage to capture all of those conflicting and complex qualities.
There can be no apology or excuse for the behaviours exhibited. Indeed, the series takes one right to the heart of the pain that was endured by many caught up in the impeachment scandals. But it does raise all sorts of questions, without providing easy answers or value judgements. And that makes it a very worthy document in historical revisionism via film. And darn good television!