A close look at the Bush-Gore election in Florida.


Recount is an HBO 2008 made-for-TV movie about the Florida recount in the 2000 election. At my university, chunks of this are shown to some Political Science courses in order to better understand the Electoral College and judicial processes, so we thought it was worth watching all the way through.

HBO usually makes quality stuff, and this is no exception. I was curious to see if the film had an explicit agenda, and for the most part, it does well to show that neither side of this debate came off clean. This is an important moment in American electoral history, and if nothing else, this film does provide a lesson.

Kevin Spacey plays one of Gore’s campaign advisors, Ron Klain. The film focuses more from the Gore campaign’s perspective, which some might see as a bias, but it is also realistic. They were the team leading the charge for the recounts. The acting, directing, and writing are all excellent.

Where the film is its most interesting is getting a look into how recounts and votes are viewed. Neither party comes off totally clean. The film does make you wonder what would have happened if all the votes would have been counted.

The film will hopefully make people ask questions about the electoral system. One thing that has always bothered me is why recounts consistently give different results. Granted, the results are usually more obvious, but this signals an inherent problem in how votes are counted. A major theme of the film is country before party. Unfortunately, a lot of the actions then and now seem to show people putting their party before the country. Here we can see how the electoral system can and does fail many people.

The true aspects of the film are fantastic. However, at a few points, it tries too hard to be an entertaining experience rather than an enlightening one. The film forces suspense, narrative elements, and too much of a clean feel to the onslaught of completely dicked up situations. These elements make the film hard to judge. On the one hand, doing this makes for a more coherent viewing experience. On the other, it makes me wonder the veracity of many of the scenes.

In a perfect world, people would not rely on film for education, but we should all accept that this is where many people get their information. When films present themselves as true, they better damn well be accurate. I did not notice any glaring flaws in this film, but it is something to be cautious of when watching this type of movie.

Overall, Recount is an interesting story and does provide insights into some of the aftermath of the election. Worth a watch, but probably only once. 7.5/10

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