Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011)

Rating: B-

Dir: Nick Broomfield

Way before there was Morgan Spurlock, Bill Maher or Michael Moore, Broomfield was doing documentaries in which the creator got involved. But these were never about pushing a particular point of view; he took the viewer along on a journey, and if the end product was not where he expected, so be it. Hence, this wasn’t intended as a “hit piece” on Sarah Palin. It just ended up being one, because none of her friends in Alaska, or those who might have had something positive to say about her, would talk to Broomfield. So, he was pretty much left with nothing except those who had been trampled by Palin on her way to the top.

And there were absolutely no shortage of those, from classmates at school, through her time on the town council, up to becoming the mayor of Wasilla, then Alaskan governor and using her power to carry out personal vendettas against those she felt had wronged her. Even as no particular fan of the Democratic party, I can’t help feeling the world dodged a bullet in Palin becoming Vice-President behind a man who would now be aged 75. Broomfield has no problem locating Palin, doorstepping her during a book signing, and his interview request gets the signature line that forma part of the title. Converting that into actual face time, however… Well, that’s a lot more problematic. He kills time by talking to Palin’s parents, as well as other members of family and friends, but as word gets out, Palin and her court become more and more suspicious, and the support and access dry up.

On that side of the portrait, at least. Broomfield gets thrown out of the current mayor’s office, finds himself facing demands for money in exchange for the dirt, and ends up resorting to the use of a megaphone when the promise “Q+A” at an appearance turns out to involve pre-screened questions only. Palin comes off as friendly and charming in person – yet completely unfit for public office. It’s definitely not without flaws – his efforts to tie Palin to a mass shooting in Tucson founder, largely because it’s well known the perp was nutty as a fruitcake, and it’s a shame those who most need to see this never will, for obvious reasons. But as someone who was more aware of Palin through Tina Fey’s impression of her, it was an eye-opener.