Better This World — Better This World tells the dramatic story of David McKay and David Crowder, two angry young men from Midland, Texas who went to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul MN., and ended up facing domestic terrorism charges. The narrative and characterizations unfold very skilfully, with tension more akin to an action thriller than a documentary. The themes that emerge of betrayal, justice, and the role of informants in law enforcement, are extremely timely and interestingly handled.
While I found some of the techniques manipulative, the editing is excellent. The use of recreations, which can be a dreadful choice in many instances, works well here, and assists the story’s flow tremendously. The use of surveillance camera angles, as well as the excellent sound design, also help to heighten the tension and paranoia, creating a sense of the interior world of the radical activist.
While the directors’ decision to concentrate on the emotional and personal fallout of the boys’ decision to make molotov cocktails was probably a sound one, I found myself wanting a more thorough exploration and analysis of Black Bloc tactics as a phenomenon. By concentrating on presenting McKay and Crowder as naïve but wholesome all-American boys, the filmmakers avoided directly associating them with the Black Bloc, although this seemed obvious to me and worthy of some examination.
Better This World is a well-made film that succeeds in exploring the limits of friendship’s bonds in the pressure cooker of political and legal intrigue. Love and Rage indeed. Recommended.
Sun. • Feb. 5 • Cap 6 Th5 • Noon
Thurs. • Feb. 9 • Cap 6 Th5 • 9:45pm
Directors: Kelly Duane de la Vega, Katie Galloway
USA • 2011 • 94 min • DCP
Review by Bryan Skinner — Executive Director at CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers