What I’d expected to be a fairly lightweight behind-the-scenes look at the relatively short-lived presidential campaign of South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg turns out to be something far more substantial than his mild-mannered, even-tempered persona might have you believe it could be. But as director Jesse Moss (co-director of Boys State) begins to dig into Buttigieg’s background and life as an openly gay politician (he would have been the youngest and first openly LGBTQ U.S. president, had he won), the man’s substance, convictions and forcefulness begin to surface. With the invaluable assistance of his husband Chasten and diverse campaign team, we follow every step of the candidate’s journey from unknown midwestern mayor to nearly winning the Iowa caucus to his eventual dropping out and throwing his support behind Joe Biden (which likely had a hand in Biden selecting him for his current position of U.S. Secretary of Transportation).
Buttigieg and his team were determined to run a clean, truth-focused campaign, which is not to say he didn’t get defensive. And in the midst of his campaign there was a public relations crisis centered on an officer-involved shooting back in South Bend that needed to be dealt with and may have hurt his standing in certain communities of color. We come to admire those around him for always speaking truthfully to Buttigieg, even if it’s about his image being too stiff or not being tough enough on his opponents in his own party. His debate prep is not only interesting, but we actually see the results on stage, where he begins to get attacked as he becomes more of a political force. If for no other reason, Mayor Pete is terrific at making us realize that he’s still quite young and will likely have a few more opportunities to run for president in the future. As much a character study as a documentary, this is a fantastic work about being proud and happy about who you are.
Mayor Pete is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
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