film 6 of 7

American Dream

Draft Review by Dean Duncan May 21, 2015

Tremendously sophisticated & subtle, just as moving & sad, with a solemn, even chilling theme running right through: suggesting that expectations for fairness & safety in the American workplace clarity (what is right, what we should do) and expectations of fairness and safety have become things of the past;

What makes American Dream more than just banal nihilism is that it may be no one’s fault—the Hormel management may be a silent and villainous given, but the real fight is between the international & the local, both of whom seemed to act honourably and with a desire to serve the greatest good, which is nevertheless not served—and that there abound noble figures who earn our admiration & even love, who transcend the almost Greek tragedy of the narrative (two brothers on two sides, the embattled local president, the vilified international president, dissentors at the local level);

Director Barbara Kopple t is narrative, with scoring and intercutting and inserts and all those other fictional tools quite unironically and justifiably used, Kopple’s luck and planning (all those years, being in all those right places in all those right times) are both staggering, network news bits remind us how substantial and dramatic the real world (documentaries!) are, the endless funding crawl at the end remind us how tough it is to get those dramas filmed and distributed; finally a great example of why docs count and what they can do