It’s almost that time of year again. A lot has changed in the world since 2020 settled in to take us on a rollercoaster that none of us saw coming, taking us all through a trying, testing, and heartbreaking scenario. But, life goes on and in the midst of lockdowns and multiple protests across the world, all eyes will soon turn to the US (when are they not?) and the impending election campaign due to start in earnest soon. The campaign trails, the lies, the cover-ups, the pushing and shoving (some metaphorical, some physical), and everything in between will be with us again as Trump and Joe Biden (presumably) battle it out for supremacy. Four more years? Who knows?
With his latest endeavour – his sophomore directorial effort after 2014’s Rosewater – writer/director and former late-night and Oscar host Jon Stewart takes us into the whirlwind world of red vs blue, right vs left, Republican vs Democrat. Here, it’s not the political campaign to find the new President, this tale is more localised on the smaller but no less responsible job of Mayor, namely that of local democratic veteran Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper).
A viral video later where he stands up to the local council and pleads for change and former Hillary Clinton strategist Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) wants to help him win, and with his team in tow, sets out to make it happen by any means necessary. Even if they have to survive without such luxuries as wi-fi.
Stewart, always sharp, spontaneous, and supremely intelligent, beautifully zeroes in on the rumble-tumble of the election campaign and paints a thoughtful picture that’s funny because it’s funny and funny because it’s sad. Highlighting the lengths that such strategy geniuses go to win votes, it’s piercing and relevant, its satire biting and its realism spot on. We’ve seen darker, more abrasive looks at politics in recent years – see Vice, House of Cards, etc – and while Irresistible is just as important as those films in highlighting everything wrong with the system, and it isn’t shy about poking fun and having it too.
Led by Steve Carell‘s irresistible (ahem) manic tendencies and his ability to always be avuncular and likeable, the ensemble is hugely impressive: from Cooper, as a military veteran diametrically opposed to the one he played in American Beauty to the brilliant Mackenzie Davis (who plays his daughter) and the always effervescent Natasha Lyonne, it’s perfect all the way through. And when you let Rose Byrne off the leash as she is here – venomous, pithy and biting – it’s just the cherry on top of the cake.
It may not go quite as deep as some of the other hard-hitting satires of such nature but Irresistible works both as a comedy and a piercing portrayal of the mayhem that ensues when votes are needed, particularly in small swing states such as this. Hardly original but wholly satisfying, it’s a pleasure from start to finish.