Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story (review)

Even vocal critics of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani concede that on that terrible September morning two years ago, he was every bit the leader the city needed: a calming voice of reason and later, during the few remaining months of his term, the mourner-in-chief. But it’s too soon to have any real perspective on the day and its players, the emotions still too raw for a dispassionate examination, and so this made-for-cable biopic suffers from a shallowness and a rushed kind of hagiography that doesn’t shy away from its subject’s shortcomings but ends up forgiving them. James Woods ably captures the fractious federal prosecutor turned politician, but the film’s unnuanced rundown of Giuliani’s career — here he is, the morally outraged D.A. coming down hard on mobsters and insider-traders; here he is, the hard-assed mayor bringing tough love to his favorite city — offers little understanding of him as a man, of his relationship to New York and the city to him, or of how one day could transform his public image. The scenes of 9/11 itself are hard to watch for this New Yorker — the pseudo-documentary style of the dramatization combined with real footage of the towers burning and collapsing is too much like reliving the nightmare. Non New Yorkers, though, may find it a revealing depiction of what it was like to be a New Yorker that day. The DVD also includes the History Channel documentary The Day the Towers Fell.

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