The resonance of Rachel Boynton’s documentary Our Brand is Crisis is flabbergasting. When former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, known as Goni to his people, hires the firm operated by Stan Greenberg and James Carville to run his reelection campaign, the spectacle of ballot-counting and angry mob scenes echoes the election horrors that put Bush II in the White House not once but twice. Riveting through and through, Our Brand is Crisis unravels like a political thriller, evoking the failure of the capitalistic, neo-liberal Goni to spread democracy in a country whose people have been crippled by poverty and disenchanted by the man’s undelivered promises. Though Boynton seems to lose sight of some fascinating gripes (Goni, a Bolivian raised and educated in the United States, speaks better English than Spanish and his people seem to resent him for it—hence the signs that read “Gringo Asshole Step Down”), that’s not to say that she isn’t mindful of the social realities of the Bolivian people and how this shapes their political views. She certainly is, except the focus of Our Brand is Crisis, like 1993’s The War Room and Robert Altman’s Tanner ’88, isn’t so much the politics of a nation as it is the selling of a political campaign to that nation. Carville’s well-meaning associate Jeremy Rosner calls the progressive form of government their agency looks to spread all over the world “market-driven,” but marketing-driven is more like it, because it’s amid the non-stop flurry of focus groups, speech-writing, and polling that Carville’s people begin to lose sight of the reality of life in Bolivia, which erupts in revolution as soon as Goni raises the country’s income taxes. It’s in this way that Our Brand is Crisis looks to remind well-meaning people like Carville and Rosner to put the humanity in brand marketing.
- Koch Lorber Films
- 85 min
- Rachel Boynton
- Gonzalo Snachez de Lozada, Jeremy Rosner, Stan Greenberg, Tad Devine, Tal Silberstein, James Carville, Amy Webber, Carlos Mesa, Manfred Reyer Villa, Evo Morales
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