Film Reviews

It's doubtful that anyone sitting around the fire at Trump Camp will give "The Final Year" a moment's notice, but those who were warmed by the fires kindled in President Barack Obama's Administration will be fired up by this well-made documentary of the work that it takes to negotiate with foreign powers.

Director Greg Barker also directed the documentary "Manhunt," about taking down Osama Bin Laden. He concentrates on catching the official and unofficial words of President Obama. He also follows the path trod, mile by mile, by Secretary of State John Kerry and by Ben Rhodes, the deputy national secretary. Rhodes at 39 kept up with Kerry at 72, each traversing the world, advising and speechifying and writing those speeches.

In addition, Barker captured Samantha Power, the Irish immigrant who represented America at the United Nations. She described her job as "bearing witness," which she says is "the best way to convince people." Power is a government professor at Harvard, and her comments to other immigrants, including her children's caretaker, being granted American citizenship are some of the most moving in this film.

Along with Susan Rice, this team manifests President Obama's exhortation that we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. 

Barker follows the team from Greenland to Paris and Cuba to Iran. He films the President laying wreaths at ceremonies with our former enemies at Hanoi and at Hiroshima in moving moments.

Still, the hardest part of the documentary to watch is the scene of leave-taking at the end of this final year, as these people pack their belongings to hand over President Obama's legacy of diplomacy to the incoming administration.

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