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With: Ralph Nader, Jay Acton, Theresa Amato, Pat Buchanan, Peter Camejo, Scott Carter, Joan Claybrook, John Conyers, Jr., Karen Croft, Phil Donahue, James Fallows, Michael Feinstein, Todd Gitlin, Richard Grossman, Greg Kafoury, Jason Kafoury, Carl Mayer, Tarek Milleron, Morton Mintz, Ross Mirkarimi, Jim Musselman, Claire Nader, Laura Nader, Bryce Nelson, James Ridgeway, Harvey Rosenfield, Donald Ross, Rob Weissman, Dr. Sidney Wolfe
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Henriette Mantel, Stephen Skrovan
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 122
Date: 01/24/2006

An Unreasonable Man (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

For the Nader Good

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

About midway through the new documentary An Unreasonable Man, some of the interview subjects merely throw up their hands and claim that it's impossible to know the "real" Ralph Nader, that he has no personal life, no romantic interests, nothing at all outside his work. This seems like a lazy way to justify the fact that filmmakers Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan actually have access to Mr. Nader, but that they choose to use him merely as another talking head in his own life story. Indeed, the film's first hour, which deals with Mr. Nader's formidable accomplishments up to the year 2000, is a model of routine, PBS-style filmmaking. It purports to be "objective," but fails to validate its existence as a film. Wouldn't it have been far more revealing to follow Mr. Nader around for a few days and observe his habits and his candid moments? Nevertheless, the film's second half, which deals with Nader's controversial runs for President in 2000 and 2004, manages to launch a heated argument between Nader's supporters and a few detractors. Each fires off his or her "reasons" why Nader may or may not have been responsible for George W. Bush's "victory." Of course, objectivity goes right out the window (the filmmakers have clearly chosen a side) and that's what makes the second half so fascinating. Even more fascinating is the film's selection of interview subjects, which includes a jovial Pat Buchanan (apparently a friend of Nader's?). In the end, the purpose of An Unreasonable Man is to take back Mr. Nader's legacy and restore him to the Knight in Shining Armor that has fought his whole life for the betterment of the American people.

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