|Ben Rhodes, Samantha Powers, John Kerry, and Barak Obama|
The Final Year delivers an overview of the final year of Obama's second term, and how he and his team carried on foreign policy. As well as Obama himself, the story focuses on three people nearest the President: the passionate, idealistic, committed Samantha Power, Ambassador to the United Nations, the experienced and dedicated John Kerry, Secretary of State, and blunt-spoken behind-the-scenes Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
The segments cover activities in Syria, Laos, Viet Nam, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Cuba and the UN, dramatizing the scope of US concerns around the world. We see Kerry's dogged persistence in seeking a deal in Iran. We see Obama interacting with young people wherever he goes. We see Power barely holding back the tears when meeting mother of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. We see Rhodes mind-morphing with Obama to craft drafts of his speeches.
It's heart-wrenching to compare the high ideals and global empathy of this cast of characters with the venality and self-interest of the current US president. Power's women's party to celebrate Clinton's expected victory deflates like a sad balloon. Rhodes, the wordsmith, cannot find words to express his desolation on the night Trump is elected.
The movie ends with the ultimate irony: The Times They Are a Changin', once a chant of hope and progress, is a dirge for the death of principled US diplomacy. Or if you feel hopeful, it's just a blip in human progress.
I highly recommend* this movie, but take a tissue. It'll make you cry.
* The movie gets a low rating on rottentomatoes. I can only believe the ratings were stacked by Trump supporters. It's a great movie.