Fred Wiseman’s new documentary celebrates the ideal of the civil society, through the multiple works of Boston City Hall and, in particular, the efforts of progressive mayor Marty Walsh. Over 4.5 hours, Wiseman paints a picture of American society today.
"Putting his hometown under the lens for the first time in his vast career, the 90-year-old documentarian — now resident in Paris — finds it in imperfect but hopeful flux, taking stock of its social diversity, inequalities and future priorities under the conscientious leadership of Democratic mayor Marty Walsh. The result is both sober and inspiring: an urban progress report taking into account a plethora of government services, scutinized by Wiseman’s patient but unblinking eye […] More insistently political than most of his films, albeit through observational emphasis rather than direct editorialization, it’s also rare in its character-driven nature, allowing a clear protagonist — a hero, even — to emerge from its many diffuse scenes of everyday life across a broad social and professional spectrum. Ruddy-faced and affable, with a Beantown accent as thick as chowder, Walsh isn’t a constant presence in City Hall, but when he isn’t shown speaking, attentively listening or glad-handing the public, the mayor’s constructive, conversational brand of statesmanship permeates the film’s other scenes of government in action." Guy Lodge, Variety
"As attention spans dwindle and the complex mess of American governance grows murkier than ever, Wiseman’s immersive dive into Boston’s city services ignores the pressure to dumb things down and marvels at the complexity of a system designed to make the world run right." Eric Kohn, Indiewire
"A story of America in the age of Trump… thoroughly exciting documentary filmmaking." Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
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