'Janeane From Des Moines'

Article by: Claude Peck | November 2, 2012 - 6:26 PM


★★ 1/2 out of four stars • Theater: St. Anthony Main

The title role in this mockumentary about the Republican primary race in Iowa in 2011 is not from Des Moines, and her name isn't Janeane. Rather, the Los Angeles actor Jane Edith Wilson (born in Ames, Iowa) creates Janeane as a devout Christian and Tea Party conservative in search of the best presidential candidate among Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney.

Resembling a downwardly mobile Meryl Streep in her frumpy clothes, smudged glasses and disheveled hair, she is very convincing as she attends evangelical churches, a women's Bible study group and candidate appearances. The campaigners roll into town on gleaming buses, the media crowds around, and there is Janeane, always pushing her way to the front to quiz the pols. Soon enough, however, Janeane loses her husband, her job, their house and her health. As she tearfully begs candidate Romney to help save struggling heartland families like hers, news cameras soak it in, and Diane Sawyer wrings her hands about the scene on national television. Bachmann chats with Janeane over coffee, offering nonspecific assurances in response to questions about access to health care. This cinema demi-verité is a fascinating, discomfiting hybrid of real candidates and a fake constituent, but director Grace Lee's own politics and tactics are something of a muddle. (Unrated.)

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