Dan Riehl has penned a masterful review of The Undefeated which appears today in Big Hollywood: An excerpt follows:
Stephen K. Bannon’s powerful documentary, “The Undefeated,” may be the condensed story of Sarah Palin to date; however, that’s far from all that it is. “The Undefeated” is as much America’s story and a story of American Exceptionalism, as it is your story, if you consider yourself a genuine Reagan-Republican, or Conservative. Add in the dynamics of significant under-currents within contemporary American culture and politics, especially of the Republican strain, and one begins to appreciate the scope of Bannon’s latest epically American political film.
Bannon artfully weaves those broader themes into the story of Sarah Palin not simply as political, or theatrical device, but demonstrates them to be genuine, honest and accurate in keeping with the documentary format. Assuming one knows at least a bit of Palin’s more recent story – and the film appears to primarily target Conservatives, Tea Party types and GOP primary voters who would – the film’s tremendous force and tension comes from the confrontation of all those things Bannon accurately embodies in Palin pitted against elitist, establishment forces intent on, not simply opposing, but destroying both Palin and what she represents.
The opening will likely leave many a viewer sitting alone in a darkened theater asking, … why? Why are they so intent on destroying Sarah Palin (or me, and what I believe in, assuming one has come to identify with the former Governor politically to at least some degree)? And that’s just the first four minutes.
From my first viewing of a rough cut of “The Undefeated” over a week ago, to re-visiting the opening four times now, as an individual deeply passionate about conservative politics – even if often expressed confrontationally, I’ve not been able to get through it once without checking back tears born of a mix of emotions – from sadness and anger, to frustration and deep concern. I’m not ashamed to say, on more than one occasion, said checking failed.
However, the tears are not for, or about, Sarah Palin. I consider myself a fan, certainly, but am not so naive as to entrust my entire politics and beliefs in any one person, or political figure – not even Ronald Reagan. It’s the painful realization of a broader truth for America and America’s current politics that grabbed me up and invested me so deeply in Bannon’s film. Besides, why cry for Sarah Palin, she is and remains “The Undefeated,” in the grand scheme? At no time does the film take on what would have been an unfortunate tone, that of making her appear a victim, somehow. Palin is a fighter and a survivor, as the film makes abundantly clear.
Be sure to read the whole thing. It’s thorough and very well done. Visit the film’s website here.