Sometimes, the truth can be more entertaining than fiction.
If Argo, last year’s winner of the best-picture Oscar, was a high-stakes political thriller about the 1980 exfiltration of six Americans from the clutches of Ayatollah Khomaini’s minions, it was also a simplistic and escapist escape movie about the power of Hollywood to defeat evil.
So now, in typically earnest fashion, we Canadians respond with a documentary to reclaim our true story.
But if the goal is predictable, the result is consistently engaging, as co-directors Larry Weinstein (Inside Hana’s Suitcase) and Drew Taylor call on eyewitnesses – then-Prime Minister Joe Clark, Secretary of State for External Affairs Flora MacDonald, the U.S. National Security Adviser Gary Sick, and others – to bring to intimate life the era’s jittery nature and the heroism of Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador to Iran who was dubbed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter “our man in Tehran” after overseeing the Americans’ escape.
On film, more than three decades later, Taylor seems ambivalent about his own triumph: Sure, he outsmarted agents of the Ayatollah, but he knows it’s the Iranian common folk who continue to suffer the consequences of that period.