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Film Reviews Review: The Final Year follows U.S. diplomats at end of Obama administration

A scene from The Final Year, which follows a trio of U.S. diplomats jetting around the world in the final 12 months of the Barack Obama administration.

courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

3 out of 4 stars

Title
The Final Year
Directed by
Greg Barker
Starring
Barack Obama, Samantha Power, John Kerry, Ben Rhodes
Genre
Documentary
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2017

Call it Requiem for a Globalistic Dream. When director Greg Barker began following a trio of U.S. diplomats jetting around the world in the final 12 months of the Barack Obama administration – ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power; secretary of state John Kerry; and the deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes – he probably envisioned an earnest portrait of the individuals charged with overseeing America's newly enlightened engagements around the world.

And so we get Rhodes rhapsodizing about Obama's belief that "American exceptionalism is rooted in what we stand for and how we act, not our ability to impose our will – because that doesn't work." And Power, juggling her life at home as a mom of two young kids with a trip to a Cameroon refugee camp, where she bears witness to mothers whose daughters have been taken by Boko Haram.

But a wistfulness hangs over the proceedings: Viewers can't help but realize that, just after the final scene, which takes place on the early morning of Donald Trump's inauguration, the new president's administration began to feverishly reverse all the delicate, passionate work we had just observed.

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