The War Room (1993) - Rotten Tomatoes

The War Room1993

The War Room (1993)



Critic Consensus: Eye-opening in its access to an array of colorful campaign operatives, The War Room is a valuable time capsule and a riveting study in the art of politicking.

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Movie Info

A look inside the 1992 presidential race, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hedgus' documentary The War Room explores the backstage side of national politics by examining the day-to-day operations of Bill Clinton's campaign staff. The behind-the-scenes leader of the group is James Carville, the demonstrative, charismatic campaign manager who relies on a plain-speaking manner and emotional appeals to motivate his subordinates. He is complemented by the quieter, smoother personality and photogenic looks of young press spokesman George Stephanopoulous. The filmmakers follow these two contrasting personalities from the January New Hampshire primary to Clinton's eventual victory, as they attempt to cling to an overall strategic plan while dealing with unforeseen problems and negative press, as their candidate is saddled with accusations of adultery and draft-dodging. Subplots include the rivalries between Democratic campaign staffs -- which can become amusingly petty, as when they accuse each other of tearing down campaign posters -- and the romantic relationship between Carville and Mary Matalin, chief strategist for George Bush's campaign. Co-director D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop, Don't Look Back, Primary) is renowned as an innovator in the use of cinema-verite, used here to show both the mundane complications and the emotional highlights of the modern political process.

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Critic Reviews for The War Room

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6)

The film offers an inside look at a campaign through the eyes of those who lived it with the intimacy that we've come to expect from our campaign documentaries.

August 20, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

At the very least, it may dispel the notion that campaign managers pervert the course of democracy with behind-the-scenes omniscience; the surprise in the film is that they're often as confused as their candidates sometimes seem to be.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Without an imposed narrative, the story of the campaign unfolds with suspense inducing antagonists, and a natural, highly rewarding arc.

November 19, 2020 | Full Review…

The War Room is about the day-to-day grunt work of politicking, in rooms filled with fluorescent lighting and bad coffee and ragged adrenaline energy.

November 9, 2020 | Full Review…

An eye-opening journey into the lost art of politicking, The War Room is a must-watch for anyone curious about the nuts and bolts of campaigning for office.

June 22, 2020 | Full Review…

It's a testament to the supreme skills of Hegedus and Pennebaker that they managed to craft a film that so easily could have gone astray.

December 28, 2012 | Rating: A

Audience Reviews for The War Room

Whats interesting is that the film is less of a story of Clinton's '92 Presidential Campaign, and more of a character study of James Carville and George Stephanopolous who organized (and arguably won) the race for Bill Clinton. The makers of this documentary were given remarkably close access to some very private moments and they capture the serious ups and down for the behind the scenes workers. Really whats most intriguing is the marriage of Carville to Mary Matalin, who was one of the top members of Bush's '92 Re-election campaign. There are some great cuts back and forth between Matalin and Carville bashing the others political party to the media.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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