“Ann Richards’ Texas,” as was the late housewife/activist turned outspoken Democratic state governor, is by turns feisty, fiery, funny and determined to be outrageous. This last trait is the pic’s Achilles’ heel, as self-conscious visual punctuations — backlit plumes of hairspray, closeups of high heels — impede the momentum of Richards’ genuinely inspiring story arc and influence in a state she lost in 1994 to George W. Bush, whom she referred to as “Shrub.” On the radar after winning the WGA documentary writing prize at the recent SilverDocs fest, pic will do the fest circuit and is best suited to the tube.
After marrying her high-school sweetheart, Richards relocated from stuffy Dallas to anything-goes Austin, where she taught junior high school and raised four kids. Schooled in liberal causes and activism, she was elected state treasurer in 1982, and subsequently parlayed her success at the job and a galvanizing keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention into the governorship from 1991-95. Supporting cast of talking heads runs the political and cultural gamut from political adviser Paul Begala to “Cowjazz” troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker. Tech package is slick.