I strongly believe that the truth of the day is that it is near impossible to make a truly, completely unbiased or neutral political film or documentary, and this statement holds more merit in the current political climate the world over, especially when people are absolutely quick to take sides and the advent of social media seems to have lent a voice to everyone with an opinion.
In that, Netflix’s latest ‘Knock Down the House’ knows what it is: a documentary chronicling the extraordinarily positive journey of four working class women who decided to contest the 2018 Congressional US elections against mostly incumbent, undefeatable candidates, in a hope to change things for good; and it keeps by that throughout its runtime of 87 minutes, which is among the film’s key victories. It is not hard to guess from the trailers that the documentary wishes to do nothing but celebrate their journeys and struggles, especially that of AOC more than it is interested in providing an objective look at the political landscape during the elections, so if you are stepping in expecting a radical political expose’ of sorts, you’re obviously kidding yourself.
The other place where I can guess the negative reviews are coming from are viewers that simply do not support the political ideology of the left wing or AOC in particular, dismissing the film as blatant propaganda. Well, since I am not very privy to the American political landscape myself, I am going to choose my review to reflect only on the filmmaking bits and what it made me feel about these four remarkable contestants despite.
‘Knock Down the House’ benefits its makers in already giving them the star of their film, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, knowing that she won in New York in the Bronx-Queens area, and she is suitably at the focus of the film, with the opening and closing frame being virtually her. As for AOC herself, irrespective of whether you can back her up on her political ideologies or not, you cannot disagree that she is a speaker of passion and an exuberant personality, and her speeches, debates and campaigning are easily the best bits of the film to watch, where AOC steals it through sheer conviction of her words and a winning body language.
Even as a neutral viewer, you are naturally in support of her simply because of talks of issues relevant to the working middle classes with a rare kind of passion, as opposed to, say, Joe Crowley’s. Apart from her, the film, for roughly half of its runtime also focuses on Amy Vilela who contested from Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia, each fighting for problems particular to their constituencies and dismissing the republican incumbency of age old leaders who they accuse of corporate funding and not paying attention to the problems of the regular working American: something that they thought could be solved by better congressional representation by a regular working class citizen, rather than the “suited white man” stereotype, far removed from the problems the people of their constituencies faced.