Sarah Palin - You Betcha! (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/10/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Broomfield's documentary has the occasional good moment, but it's severely hampered by a Palin-ordained lack of interview access and ultimately fails to get to grips with its subject.

What's it all about?
Directed by Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, Sarah Palin – You Betcha! is a documentary that sets out to explore the life and career of Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. With that in mind, Broomfield and Churchill travel to her home town of Wasilla, Alaska and set about interviewing their talking heads (including Sarah's parents and various local supporters) but when word gets back to the Palin camp that they're also interviewing her enemies (of which there are seemingly hundreds – one ex-colleague estimates that at any one time she would have fifty or sixty feuds on the go), the town closes ranks pretty quickly and soon no-one will talk to them.

Meanwhile, Broomfield repeatedly tries and fails to secure an interview with Palin herself, but although she cheerfully promises to give him one at one of her regular book signings, it never materialises and he's eventually reduced to heckling her at a public Q&A event.

The Good
Broomfield and Churchill have assembled a decent amount of unseen archive footage that includes old photographs and local TV footage, which the film uses to paint an intriguing portrait of her as an ambitious girl from a well-known local family who was both charming and used to getting what she wanted. However, when Palin's friends and relatives are ordered not to speak to Broomfield, he ends up having to interview a string of disgruntled ex-employees and ex-friends and a different portrait emerges of a paranoid, vengeful, gaffe-prone woman whose own personality defects seem to have scuppered her political chances.

The Bad
The main problem is that, having established in the opening narration that “very little is known about Sarah Palin”, the film completely fails to tell us anything that we didn't already know – there's really nothing here that explains just how she parlayed a position as a folksy mayor into the woman who almost became Vice President. Infuriatingly, Broomfield secures a quote from the man who chose her as McCain's running mate, saying that he deeply regrets it, but fails to interview the man himself.

Similarly, having failed to secure the central interview, the film becomes increasingly mean-spirited and resorts to trotting out every gaffe or embarrassing incident, including the prank call where she thought she was talking to President Sarkozy.

Worth seeing?
There is undoubtedly a fascinating story to be told about Sarah Palin, but this isn't it. Ultimately, Broomfield's bumbling approach doesn't really serve the subject and the end result is disappointing.

Film Trailer

Sarah Palin - You Betcha! (tbc)
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Content updated: 15/12/2017 16:04

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