Now for something that isn’t explicitly linked to the Black Lives Matter protests, but something that is absolutely relevant when you connect the dots.
Knock Down the House is the documentary companion that follows four new, female candidates on their primary campaigns to topple existing Congressmen and make their way to the House of Representatives (hence the name). The four women come from very different backgrounds. First, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, who was born and raised in New York. Second, Amy Vilela; a Maryland native Caucasian woman who ran for a seat in Nevada. Then there’s Paula Jean Swearengin, the country bumpkin from West Virginia, who is running for a second time this year in her home state. Finally, we take a look at Cori Bush, who is a proudly African American Missourian, and is also re-running in 2020.
All four candidates are relevant to the change that so many are currently hoping to see in the USA this year. Knock Down the House is a documentary about the political upheaval that is needed in the US, and the extreme lengths it takes to battle your way to where you need to be to incite such change. This idea is perhaps most neatly summarised by Ocasio-Cortez, who says ”For one of us to make it through, 100 of us have to try.” That’s the sad truth of things, but it’s also a quote that inspires hope in the viewer, and particularly the female viewer.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is extremely charismatic and extremely personable, which led me to wish this whole thing was focused solely on her in a way. That’s not to say that the other women aren’t important, I just believe this would have worked better if it looked exclusively at Ocasio-Cortez, mainly because (not really a spoiler because this is a real-life issue) she’s the only one who actually won the election. It was nice to see that the fight for more women in congress – both white and POC – is a nationwide dream however, and AOC does end up taking up the bulk of screen time in the end anyway.
Though watching people run for congress isn’t always the easiest, most riveting watch, the challenge is worth getting through, and the documentary itself gets progressively better as the run time ticks on towards its jubilant pay off.
For all of America’s problems with gun laws, healthcare, racism, corporate greed (the list is rather long), a documentary like this one proves that there is hope and that someone actually cares. After watching, I was left with one thought: if only there were 100 more of these democratic women in congress! However, it is uplifting to know that some of the women in this documentary have re-affirmed their wish to run in the upcoming elections.
Although I would not consider Knock Down the House as strong as some of the other political documentaries I’ve seen, this is well made for what it is. The editing is good and keeps the viewer’s interest, although it is a little drawn out at points, particularly when it goes into the details of how each candidate is funding their campaign. It can be interesting if you’re that kind of politics and economics nerd, but I’d assume that a lot of people will be disinterested by some parts of these aspects.
After watching the necessary sadness that was Ava DuVernay‘s 13th, this was just what I needed: a beacon of hope in a time of struggle. Sadly, one could assume that the people who need to see these women the most won’t watch it, and this will be a ”Democrats only” viewing.
I do implore everyone to watch this though, no matter what party you support. It’ll only make you more informed, and guess what?! You don’t have to agree with it! But you can learn from it! Who knew?!
Knock Down the House is available to stream on Netflix UK.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design: n/a