MAYOR PETE (2021)
Political documentaries focused on specific individuals can be challenging, especially in the case of Mayor Pete Buttigieg as he has a likely national political career ahead of him and needs votes. Still, this compelling documentary from the filmmakers behind Boys State takes viewers deep into the historic candidacy of the openly gay former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, resulting in an inspirational, hopeful film.
Had Pete Buttigieg secured the democratic nomination in 2020 and gone on to win the presidency, he would have become the youngest U.S. President, history-making in and of itself. Add in the fact that his sexual identity is not hidden and you have a unique character on the national political stage. The documentary takes us into Buttigieg’s marriage to husband Chasten, who arguably steals the show with his sense of calm, unwavering support, and quirky humor. It also highlights all of the things that make Buttigieg so liked, fueling his unexpected competitive rise. Where it falters, however, is in its failure to fully examine his shortcomings aside from the very public police shooting incident in his hometown during his campaign. While not totally necessary in a piece that many will see as propaganda for future runs, it would have provided a more well-rounded product.
Still, I found myself emotionally moved from beginning to end, impressed by the ways in which Buttigieg continues to learn and evolve both personally and professionally. Part of it is identifying with the personal struggles the candidate has endured over the years, but it also relates to his introverted overthinking and desire to make change. This isn’t a film that everyone will receive well; partisan politics will find the film falling along party lines. But where Mayor Pete succeeds is in the sharing of a vision for a better future through the eyes of a new generational leader, even as the film gives us a glimpse of the final days of his campaign. Mayor Pete is a must-watch for those interested in what our future leadership could look like.
Mayor Pete is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Photo from Los Angeles Times