The First Lady Behind the Man
After meeting Nancy (Judy Davis) and marrying her, Ronald Reagan's (James Brolin) passion when it comes to speaking about America comes to the attention of the politicians who not only persuade him to switch his political allegiances but also with the help of Nancy persuade him to enter the world of politics. It isn't a smooth journey as attempts to run for the Presidency don't go well and behind the scenes there is not only unrest between those managing his campaigns but disharmony in the family as his children struggle with not only half siblings but their father and mother's political ambitions especially when Ronald says things which make him seem a fool.
As a child growing up in the UK during the 80s it was impossible to get away from the fact that former actor, Ronald Reagan, was the 40th President of the United States. The thing is that whilst I remember Reagan being in power in America I was not old enough to really have paid any attention to his politics. I mention this because it makes my experience of "The Reagans", the TV mini-series/ TV Movie, a different one to others as I wasn't watching to relive the politics of the past but to be entertained. And it is for me as the latter it works as "The Reagans" is an enjoyable stroll through the political career of Ronald Reagan whilst giving us a glimpse of behind the scenes.
So what that means is on one hand we have a representation of Nancy being the driving force behind Ronald Reagan, whilst she loved him dearly she is shown here as being ambitious and demanding, controlling of those that she can influence. As such we see how at times Ron and Nancy's children as well as his children from his previous marriage struggled with their parents; loving them but hating to be in their company for too long. But we also see how she worried about what the public thought of her as First Lady.
Now to be honest at almost 3 hours there is plenty which goes on in "The Reagans" from the assassination attempt in the streets to the perception that it was all a bit chaotic and bumbling behind the scenes with Reagan saying things which didn't always going down well whilst some of his advisors were busy manipulating things their way. What it means is that "The Reagans" ends up a bit of a trip down memory lane but one which is entertaining at the same time.
Much of why "The Reagans" works is down to the acting with James Brolin delivering a fantastic performance as the 40th President; in fact at times it is frighteningly realistic. But it is Judy Davis who is the real star of the movie because as Nancy she has the most layers from being manipulative and controlling to caring. How true this is to how things were is another matter but it makes Nancy an entertaining character almost a classic cinematic character.
What this all boils down to is that "The Reagans" ends up an enjoyable and entertaining look at the personal and political career of Ronald Reagan. I doubt it works especially well for those more interested in the political side of Reagan's life as it isn't overly heavy but it works as a piece of entertainment.