Documentary Review: ‘Pelosi in the House’

Ben Miles

Whatever one’s political viewpoints are, Nancy Pelosi, it must be admitted is a formidable political figure. The first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, a position to which she’s twice been elected, first in 2006 and again in 2018, Speaker Pelosi has helped shape major moments of the political landscape in 21st century America, including the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare), ensuring millions of Americans access to affordable healthcare.

In a unique episode of American and cinematic history, Nancy Pelosi’s daughter and documentary filmmaker, Alexandra Pelosi, had the privilege of unfettered access to her mother, the house speaker. And though this one hour and 49 minute documentary movie takes a scattershot approach to its subject and her life as the sole daughter of former Democratic congressman and erstwhile mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., it does provide insight into Speaker Pelosi’s unparalleled political courage.

For example, tearing apart President Trump’s State of the Union speech, delivered (on Feb. 5, 2020) in front of a joint session of congress and before a national audience, and standing strong as she and Senator Charles Schumer implore the deployment of the National Guard to quell the deadly capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021 in order to continue the certifying of the 2020 presidential election results.

The title, “Pelosi in the House,” foretells not only of Ms. Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker of the House, it also shows the Speaker at her San Francisco home tending to mundane tasks, such as loading laundry into the washing machine and playing with her grandchildren (she has nine of them).

We also get a glimpse of Paul Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi’s husband of 49-years. Their rapport represents a longstanding, enduring marriage. Mr. Pelosi gives no indication of resenting or objecting to his wife’s pivotal role in our nation’s political leadership (despite the fact that he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in May of 2022, to which he plead guilty, and literally hammered by an intruder who broke into the Pelosi home with the intention of abducting Speaker Pelosi).

Of course, it’s intriguing to observe the challenges of political leadership in this age of ideological polarization, and we get an up close and personal view of the speaker taking on the responsibilities of leading the U. S. House of Representatives in this time of turmoil. And daughter and documentarian Alexandra Pelosi is well equipped to offer inside coverage of the life of her unique, poised and nicely coiffed mother.

Nevertheless, regardless of the history making achievements of Speaker Pelosi and the deadly showdown she so bravely faced, this film follows no consistent narrative and offers few insights into the mind of the Speaker or the awesome responsibilities of being the next person in line to the U.S. presidency (following the vice president) that most of us who are cognizant of current affairs and the news cycle didn’t already know. Rather than being mostly a cursory portrait of one of the 21st century’s most influential Americans, “Pelosi in the House” could have been a riveting lesson in history and government. Unfortunately, it was not.

“Pelosi in the House” is not rated.


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