Political Film Society - Swing Vote

PFS Film Review
Swing Vote


Swing VoteHalf the eligible voters in the United States do not vote. Swing Vote tries to explain why by focusing on Bud Johnson (played by Kevin Costner), whose lone vote is supposed to decide the outcome of a presidential election. The improbable premise is that his precocious, idealist school-age daughter Molly (played by Madeline Carroll) secretly cast a vote for him that was not properly recorded in Texico, New Mexico, a state where votes are otherwise even for two presidential candidates yet its five electoral votes are needed in order to decide the election. New Mexico election officials come calling after the election to inform Johnson that he has ten days to recast his vote. But Johnson is depicted as a white trash divorced bum, living on the margin in a trailer, who is frequently drunk, profane, and very irresponsible, whereas his former spouse Larissa (played by Mare Winningham) appears to be on drugs. The news media descend on Texico to cover the story, and the presidential candidates reveal the sleazy manner in which they say anything to get his vote. When Molly persuades her dad to demand a debate between the two candidates, letters pour in from around the country proposing questions. The one selected, which resonates with Johnson, is why a hardworking family man cannot afford to live in the richest country in the world. The film, attended on the opening day in working class North Hollywood mostly by older Americans, then ends. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern, the message is clear. MH

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