Mr. Smith Rediscovers his Washington

Treat Williams and Elizabeth Marvel in The Congressman (2016)

Charlie Winship (Treat Williams) served his country as a soldier and now he is serving his country as a Maine Congressman. But over the years Charlie has become cynical when it comes to politics as he no longer stands to pledge allegiance, during a game of basketball he intentionally elbows another politician in the face and between the special interest lobbyists and career hungry young assistants he has to watch his back. With his professional life in turmoil as well as his personal, having just got divorced, he heads to a remote island where the locals have started a civil war over fishing rights. But it is there that he starts to rediscover his passion.

Let me just ramble about myself for a brief minute. When I left school I went to work for a supermarket chain and whilst it was not what I dreamed of doing I threw myself into my work, working extra hours, showing dedication and studying up which was worth it as I climbed the ladder. I remember that some days I would work a double shift when the evening shift manager would call in sick. But these days I find it much harder to motivate myself to work 16 hours a day like I once did, having become cynical about everything from work to the way other people treat you.

That ramble has a purpose because "The Congressman" is very much about the same thing, a one time passionate man who has lost the fight, the passion and is tired of how things are. I will admit that whilst my life is very different to that of Charlie Winship in "The Congressman" I can strongly empathise with how the character feels and can appreciate how over the years he has lost that fight to make a difference. As such it is a great bit of casting to have Treat Williams as Charlie because he brings that good nature to the character and you can believe that once he had that all American fight but has become tired of the system.

Beyond the storyline which as my title suggests is all about, in this case Mr. Winship, rediscovering his political passion, what we also have is one of those comically aware movies. What I mean by that is when a reporter questions Charlie about not pledging allegiance and he explains that it once included a straight armed salute we see how what he said gets doctored to make him look bad. We also see how is politically ambitious assistant is comically treated badly by the fishing locals. It makes it one of those movies which makes you smile but also starts a spark under you to reignite your own passion.

What this all boils down to is that "The Congressman" is one of those movies which works best if you can empathise with the main character and once had that passion but time, the system and the World has ebbed it away. And if you can empathise with the character then this ends up a pleasantly amusing but also kind of inspiring movie.

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