Review: "Death Of A President"

More4 in the UK has produced a drama entitled "The Death of a President" that uses the assassination of George W. Bush as a a starting point

Generic-bush-007680.jpgMore4 in the UK has produced a drama entitled "The Death of a President" that uses the assassination of George W. Bush as a a starting point to examine how the US would react in the wake of such an event.

In a CROOKS & LIARS EXCLUSIVE, C&L regular Nonny Mouse has previewed the movie and gives us a review and we thank her for her contribution:

On this coming Monday evening in the UK, More4 is premiering ‘Death of a President', a feature long ‘docudrama' by Borough Films and winner of the International Critics Award at this year's Toronto Film Festival, for very good reason. I was lucky/persuasive enough to be allowed a preview DVD copy for a C&L review. The American rights have been sold, so expect this to be on a television in the States near you soon.

Then make sure you watch it.

The premise is remarkably simple: President Bush is assassinated in Chicago after a speech to local business leaders while a particularly large and very angry anti-Bush demonstration rages outside in the cordoned off city streets. For anyone laboring under the illusion that this film is some sort of left-wing wish fulfillment fantasy, Seeing Dick Cheney being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States should be enough to dispel those thoughts. In any case, this is a remarkably apolitical film, with depths of subtlety and twists that are as logical as they are unanticipated; possibly something that only the British have the proper distance and the finesse to pull off. This is definitely no ‘Path to 9/11', which makes it all the more shocking.

DOAPHighRes1.jpgWithin hours of the shooting, the police and the FBI round up over three hundred people, 57 considered euphemistically ‘persons of interest', among them a Syrian immigrant, Jamal abu Zikri. When he's interviewed by Special Agent John Rucinski, Zikri's apparent lack of emotion, his refutable denials he has never handled a gun, been in contact with anyone associated with terrorist activity, or been in an Afghanistan training camp is enough for the FBI to be convinced they have their man - a ruthless sociopath and al Qaeda operative. Zikri's name is leaked to the press, a Syrian dissident is interviewed claiming he's seen evidence of the Syrian government's direct involvement in the assassination plot, Syria refuses to release details of Zikri's national military service, the US recalls its ambassador, the USS Nimitz is sent into the Eastern Mediterranean, the Patriot III Act becomes permanent law, and President Cheney (in an echo of Bush's obsession to link al Qaeda to Iraq) puts pressure on the intelligence community to find a link to state-sponsored terrorists and Syria.


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Forensic experts have found gunshot residue on Zikri's jacket as well as a partial fingerprint from the crime scene matching in nine places. But James Pearn, the FBI's forensic examiner, is troubled by the uncertainties of the evidence, as well as how vigorously it's been employed to make it fit the case. When his concerns are dismissed, he quits in protest.

FBI agent Robert Maguire is also unconvinced of Zikri's conviction, after intensive investigation uncovers no evidence linking the Syrian to any terrorist group. Instead, another suspect picked up in the sweep of suspects that night is leading toward a very different, and far more disturbing scenario. And that's as much of a ‘spoiler' as I'm going to give you.

This is a brilliantly done film that cuts close to the bone, the special effects and doubles blending factual footage and fiction into a nearly seamless whole. The actors are believable, the ambiguities thought-provoking. If anyone supposes shooting Bush would solve any problems, this profound exploration of the current American psyche should be enough to make you reconsider what you think you know, and of just how corroded the ideals of honour, truth and justice has become in our country.

Cast List:

Robert H. McGuire MICHAEL REILLY BURKE

Casey Claybon M. NEKO PARHAM

Jamal Abu Zikri MALIK BADER

Zahra Abu Zikri HEND AYOUB

Eleanor Drake BECKY-ANN BAKER

Marianne Claybon CHAVEZ RAVINE

Greg Turner ROBERT MANGIARDI

Larry Stafford BRIAN BOLAND

Dr James Pearn JAMES URBANIAK

Sam McCarthy JAY PATTERSON

John Rucinski CHRISTIAN STOLTE

Dawn Newton PATRICIA BUCKLEY

Frank Molini JAY WHITTAKER

John Rucinkski CHRISTIAN STOLTE

Dawn Newton PATRICIA BUCKLEY

Samir Masri SEENA JON

Screenplay by Gabriel Range with Simon Finch

Directed by Gabriel Range

About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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