Film Review: The Final Year (2017)
Directed by: Greg Barker
Review by: Belle McIntyre
What a difference a year makes. In the wake of the publication of Michael Wolf’s incendiary book Fire and Fury which takes us inside the White House during the first year of the Trump administration, inarguably the most dysfunctional in history, we are presented with an antidote.
Greg Barker’s documentary of the Obama administration’s last year in the White House could not present a starker comparison.
The film focuses on Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes as they prepare for what they imagine will be an orderly handover of the most important international policy programs to the incoming Clinton administration. When it becomes clear that it is not a certain outcome everything assumes a much greater urgency. The most critical issues were the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the Iran Nuclear deal, North Korea, Libya and Syria. It is a fly-on-the-wall approach with the camera following Samantha Power to international locations, Kerry and Ben Rhodes on Air Force One and Obama in The Situation Room and various White House locations. They are all on a mission to do their utmost to protect the Obama legacy from potential assault if Hillary does not win. And then the impossible happens.
The film closes with the election of Donald Trump and seen from the vantage point of today it makes you want to weep or scream. How we could have descended from the eloquent grace and optimism of Obama and the focused exemplary dedication of those who worked for him to the crass vulgarity and ignorance of Donald Trump and his chaos Swamp things in just one year? It defies reason and is thoroughly confounding. Yet, it can be seen as a ray of hope. It reminds us that it does not have to be this way. Not so long ago things were different and they can be again. It will make most of us very nostalgic for all the right reasons.