The compelling, intimate look at the family glosses over one important detail
Former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
The afterlife of a failed political candidate is a strange thing; that of a failed presidential candidate perhaps the strangest of all. As Mitt Romney puts it himself in Mitt, Greg Whiteley’s Netflix documentary about the two-time presidential candidate and governor of Massachusetts,“They become a loser for life, all right? That’s it. It’s over.” And yet, with that finality comes a wave of sympathy from the public. Enter the post-campaign documentary, an art form that at its core feeds on those very emotions, particularly among viewers who didn’t vote for the candidate.
Fittingly, Mitt starts at the end: the camera opens on a hotel room filled with Romneys; the time, 11:15 p.m. on election night, 2012. The first line is delivered in the voice of an off-camera child. “You’re at, like, 101, and he’s at, like, 259, or something?” one of Romney’s grandchildren tells him.
“Yeah, yeah. Exactly,” Romney answers. His tone, amazingly, is compassionate, consoling. More than anything in the world, Romney hates to disappoint, one of his sons tells us later in the film. The camera passes over the heads of Taggs and Bens and over the beautiful hair of the Romney daughters-in-law, landing finally on Mitt Romney, sitting on a couch next to two grandchildren in a posture that in hindsight can really only be called brave. “By the way, someone have a number for the president?” the presidential candidate says to lighten the mood. “I do,” a voice calls from offstage. “Ok,” Romney says. “Hadn’t thought about that.” He laughs. “So… what do you think you say in a concession speech?” (more…)