At the height of the 2000 election season, CBS anchor Dan Rather quipped, "The presidential race is crackling like a hickory fire." Director Jay Roach (Austin Powers) recaptures that blaze in his smart HBO docudrama about the thriller in Palm Beach County. Written by actor Danny Strong, Recount bounces between the Sunshine State, Gore's Tennessee headquarters, and Bush's Texas stomping grounds. Gore adviser Ron Klain (an excellent Kevin Spacey) provides a privileged window into those weeks when the American public first became familiar with obscure terms like "hanging chad." (Since Klain has an ax to grind with the vice president, neither he nor Gore appear completely heroic.) First, the Democratic candidate pulls ahead; then he falls behind. Just as he prepares to concede, Klain's colleague, Michael Whouley (Denis Leary), spots an anomaly in the vote count, and the race continues. Enter eccentric Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (Laura Dern, a certain Emmy nominee), who orders a recount, and former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher (John Hurt) and James Baker III (Tom Wilkinson), who oversee a process that ends up in the Supreme Court (where Ed Begley Jr.'s David Boies represents Gore). Produced by the late Sydney Pollack, who originally intended to direct, Recount
skillfully integrates news footage with dark comedy, most provided by the foul-mouthed Whouley and Bush adviser Ben Ginsberg (Bob Balaban), who's still livid about JFK's victory over Nixon. If the Democrats come across as more sympathetic, the Republicans come across as more colorful--and strategically effective. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Made-for-TV docudrama about the 2000 US presidential election and the furore surrounding the crucial result from the State of Florida. The major figures from both sides of the George W. Bush - Al Gore contest are portrayed as the contest reaches its controversial and farcical climax. Al Gore's former Chief of Staff Ron Klaine (Kevin Spacey); Republican advisor James Baker (Tom Wilkinson); and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (Laura Dern) do everything they can to get the result they want. Every last 'hanging chad' is scrutinised, recounts abound and every possible legal challenge is mounted until, at last, the result is declared.