It`s true–Julianne Moore does an even better Sarah Palin than does Tina Fey.
Judge for yourself Saturday night at 9 p.m. when HBO and HBO Canada premiere Game Change. The TV-movie is adapted from the best selling book that looked at the 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign. Writer Danny Strong focused on the Republican ticket, primarily Sen. John McCain`s surprise choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Ed Harris plays McCain and Woody Harrelson plays political strategist Steve Schmidt.
It is Moore, however, who steals the show, much as Palin stole the thunder from McCain`s presidential run. Her portrayal of Palin goes way beyond the caricature Fey offered on Saturday Night Live and is more devastating as a result.
Moore was asked at the January TCA press tour in Los Angeles how she prepared for the role:
The first thing I did was hire a vocal coach because, for me, she has an incredibly idiosyncratic way of speaking, and I really felt I needed to capture that. So I worked with a coach. We looked at hours and hours of footage. I listened to her on tape. I read her book. I read “Game Change.” I read her assistant’s book. I read absolutely everything I could get my hands on. You know, it’s a daunting task to play somebody who is not only a living figure, but a hugely well known one. So, for me, the most important thing was accuracy.
Accuracy will be debated Stateside as Palin fans denounce the film’s depiction of the former Alaska governor as a grasping opportunist who was ill-prepared for a vice-presidential run. According to the film, Palin was vetted in five days, a process that usually takes months.
Game Change is also from the same team behind Recount, the Emmy-winning drama of the 2000 Bush/Gore Florida voting scandal. Conservatives will feel the fix is in; Palin’s camp has already denounced the film as “giving fiction a bad name.”
All I can tell you is that when I watched the closed-circuit screening of it back in January at the TV critics press tour in Pasadena I could not take my eyes off of it. Moore is outstanding and the storytelling is terrific. The film shows a woman with a narrow world view who seems unable to grasp the basics of foreign policy. It also shows how she stepped up to that stage and seized her moment through charisma and chutzpah. It’s chilling in a way, scarier than American Horror Story because it implies that the real dum-dums here are voters too keen to embrace the next pretty face.