A correction was made to this review on Nov. 4, 2004.
Not just another political biopic, “Let’s Get Frank” is a fascinating portrait of an era, as well as of a unique public servant. Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress, had the chutzpah to invite picmaker Bart Everly to follow him during and after the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and the results are a time-capsule gem that says plenty about where we’ve been, and where we might be going. Pic explains much of how democracy does and doesn’t work, and should be mandatory viewing on U.S. stations — but probably won’t show up on Sinclair outlets anytime soon.
The Massachusetts congressman, embroiled in a sex scandal 10 years earlier, became a point man for the Democratic side of the witch hunt. Intercutting Frank’s story with highlights of the House Judiciary hearings, the film shows how a sharp tongue and common sense can puncture even the most venal political machine. Perversely, antagonists like committee leader Henry Hyde and toady Bob Barr, who are frequently disarmed by Frank’s humor, look almost statesmenlike compared with the creatures of power emboldened by Clinton’s near-demise. Frank narrates, adding to the sense of irreverence.