PELOSI IN THE HOUSE – Review by Martha K Baker

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Nancy Pelosi has said it before, and she says it again in Pelosi in the House: “You can’t get tired. You can never get tired.” The well-crafted documentary — filmed, written, and directed by her filmmaker daughter, Alexandra — explores Nancy Pelosi’s long life as a legislator.

Pelosi, born in 1940, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993, a first for a daughter of a Congressperson. Being a representative is not a title but a job description, she says. Pelosi began as a Congresswoman crusading for her constituents plagued by AIDS. She fought against the war in Iraq and for the Affordable Care Act. “When Trump was elected, I knew I had to stay to protect” that act, she says.

Camera pointed, cinema verité-style, Alexandra Pelosi records her mother’s percussive high heels on marble. “It’s hard to keep up with you,” Alexandra complains. At another point, the director bellyaches to her always-on-message mom: “You’re a hard nut to crack.”

Alexandra Pelosi records her mother and her father Paul conducting their businesses on dueling phones. She shows the Speaker working those phones to boost votes. In a cascading collage, Alexandra Pelosi pairs Nancy Pelosi with the Presidents she’s served. She films “Mimi” (her family name) making the bed. Nancy Pelosi is the mother of five and a grandmother of nine, and Alexandra keeps children, including her sons, in the picture, at home and in Congress, where they witness Pelosi take the speaker’s gavel

Alexandra Pelosi’s Pelosi in the House is intimate. Exploiting her license as daughter, she filmed the usually well-outfitted Nancy Pelosi in robe and slippers doing laundry on a call with Mike Pence. Pelosi in the House is intense, as when the Speaker’s tallying nail-biting votes. “Some people count sheep at night. I count votes.” she declares. The documentary includes famous scenes: Pelosi remonstrating with a reporter who accused her of hate, Pelosi tearing Trump’s State of the Union address, Pelosi begging for troops while the Capitol is being traitor-stormed on January 6.

Alexandra Pelosi’s homage includes warming humor, but, most of all, it includes Nancy Pelosi’s knowing voice and electric self. For all the excellence in Molly Ball’s Pelosi, the biographer could not transliterate Pelosi’s voice to the page. Alexandra Pelosi, exploiting her years as a documentarian and daughter, does that with élan and love and expertise, making Pelosi in the House moving and meaningful. Streaming on HBO.

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Martha K. Baker (Archived Contributor)

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.