Knock Down The House is a story of how four women-leaders, who call themselves everyday Americans stood up for change to make their home nation a better, secure and a healthy place to live in. Tracing the electoral campaigns of democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin during the mid-term elections in the USA, the documentary explores the strong reasons that convinced them to turn representatives of the people. While Alexandria was a waitress before she took the political plunge, Amy's primary motive was to ensure transparent medical insurance for all, having witnessed her sister's death, an unfortunate after-effect of a policy where she wasn't permitted to use quality healthcare services. Cori Bush promised to champion for the interests of African-Americans through her electoral bid, whereas Paula Jean Swearengin, an environmental activist had batted for a healthier world through her campaign. The political party isn't the only common thread that connects these four leaders, it's also their humble backgrounds, their commitment to people, the competition against potentially stronger opponents, and a ground-level understanding of their respective constituencies. Only Alexandria among the four manages to ensure an upset victory against her opponent in New York, but the beauty of the documentary is how it uses every story to signify hope.
Technical Merit - Direction:
Rachel Lears beautifully chronicles the political journey of four novices during their mid-term election campaigns in the US. The filmmaker is really effective in not giving labels to their stories. She merely becomes a messenger of their thoughts and justifies the reasons behind their political plunge. The storyteller opts for a non-linear narrative, drawing parallels between four stories at different stages of their campaigns. When you look at the documentary on the whole, you realise there couldn't have been a better approach to bind the inspirational value of their journeys. The emotional basis to each of these stories is nurtured beautifully. It''s hard not to be moist-eyed listening to the childhood tales of change-makers, as they speak about dealing with the loss of their beloved and finding hope out of despair. And when you compare the causes that the leaders stand up for, you can't help but take a supportive stance towards Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the narrative clearly helps you understand why she'd won at the elections. It's wonderful to see the director capture the emotions of other candidates who had put up a strong face despite their loss. That the other leaders saw hope for the future through the eyes of Alexandria is one of the most beautiful things to emerge out of this piece of art.
The documentary makers ask the right questions to the leaders and let themselves be, sans any inhibition. These ensure a lot of inspiring lines, debates, discussions and moments that capture an honest dimension to the personalities of the four women. The narrative is extremely conversational, the speech and the storytelling being crisp enough to warrant your interest for over 90 minutes.
Knock Down The House has the highest sense of filmmaking aesthetics you would expect out of a documentary narrative of certain merit. The visuals are top-notch and intentionally raw, at times, to ensure that its realism isn't compromised. The frames take you through several untapped dimensions of New York, Nevada, Missouri, West Virginia and the identity of the places is captured in the frames.
The man behind the music score, Ryan Blotnick truly respects the stories of the women and is aware of merging his soundscape organically with the content. Simplicity and poignancy are the words best used to describe his work, that's equally realistic and sophisticated in ensuring a moving documentary.
The documentary crisscrosses through four stories of women across different regions addressing different concerns. The editor understands the universality of their ideas and the common-factors that put them together, i.e. precisely the reason why their victory or failure isn't over-dramatised in the documentary. The team couldn't have asked a better man than Ryan Blotnick for the job.
Rachel Lears and team leave no stone unturned to produce a high-quality documentary that never compromises upon its scale. Be it the backdrops, the visual quality or music or any element that makes its presence felt in the narrative, the strong focus on technicalities is rightly matched by honest intentions. The mix is near-perfect.
Filmmaking aesthetics The inspirational and emotional value of the stories The crisply packaged narrative
Not telling enough about the political competitors of the woman leaders Knock Down The House is a near-flawless documentary that sticks to its objective faithfully through the narrative. Though these are stories about woman leaders in the US, the makers offer enough scope and wavelength in the material to let the viewer in any country forget barriers and appreciate the causes they had stood up for. The documentary serves as a piece of evidence to tell why humans are more connected than what they appear to be and how politics is no different on any part across the globe. Packaged within a crisp running time, this is probably the stuff that'll inspire you this election season, doesn't matter which region you belong to.
Icing on the cake:
Poignant stories of four change-makers
LetsOTT Rating: 3.5/5