Brexit: The Uncivil War ★★★½

A pretty uniquely framed drama with some great acting and intrigue, but also some pretty amateurish elements. When I say amateurish elements I mainly mean how the film is shot, it has this documentarian quality to it that seems to imply that they had about two to three cameras and pointed them at the action of a scene at the same time and cut everything together after the fact, leading to everything you watch feeling uninspired and a strange framing choice for a slo burn drama (also this film has terrible camera shake, nearly each shot is handheld and moves around in a lot the same way that the camera is always shaking in the tv show The Office, and while charming in that, reminding the viewer that everything is being filled by a documentary crew, it really hurts this film to be pulled out of the action and reminded of that same fact all the time. I really can't think of any purpose at all for this shake, as it occurs not just in the moments of instability, which would be a sensible place to use it, but also in the moments of stability and reprise). However, despite these and other technical aspects, being shot with weird compositions and using some jarring crash zooms (but also some pretty great editing including pre-laps, match cuts, and whip pans from political side to political side), the movie is saved by two things, its plot, well at least from the 25ish minute mark on, and Cumberbatch and Oliver's acting chops. I really wanted to turn this movie off for about the first quarter, as in this section you are watching Cumberbatch just yell and scream at dumb, boring, and cheesily written board representatives (all of these characters are also acted in an over the top and foolish way, I guess it's supposed to be humorous, but I hate that kind of humor and believe it bogged down the film), but then the middle act hits, when the Leave and Remain parties have to begin building up their campaigns and vie for voters, and these boring characters are reduced to background NPC's and I couldn't be happier to announce that the film becomes just a two man show, Benedict Cumberbatch and Craig Oliver. Cumberbatch, while still that alienating and insane but genius archetype character he was in the Imitation Game, when compared to the rest of the drab cast manages to actually be pretty fun to watch. And on the other hand Craig Oliver is a really forceful presence in the film, with some great monologues and moments of frustration that made me like his performance even above Cumberbatch's (he is clearly the one trying the hardest in the film). The plot of the film, specifically all the data mining stuff was interesting to me (I had watched the Great Hack last year and wanted to know more), and although it doesn't get elaborated much on in the film, just its sheer presence in the background is enough to keep me intrigued and watching. So yeah, a really mixed bag movie, and if you live in the UK and already know a lot about the intricacies of the campaigns, then don't bother watching this, but as an outsider who wasn't really up to date with Brexit it ended up being pretty interesting (however, we do mostly see things from the Leave side in the film, and this favorable look at Leave may be offensive to some. I mostly think I was able to enjoy it as much as I ended up enjoying it because I am not from or in the UK, and thus didn't have a dog in the fight). This would definitely have been a five star movie if Aaron Sorkin wrote it, but alas what can you do.