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Film Reviews Charles Ferguson’s massive documentary Watergate will shock you ... unless you’ve seen any other Nixon movie

Charles Ferguson’s new documentary tells the story of Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

Courtesy of GAT.

  • Watergate
  • Written and directed by Charles Ferguson
  • Starring Douglas Hodge, Elliot Levey and Will Keen
  • Classification N/A
  • 260 minutes
  • Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4

Charles Ferguson’s new documentary Watergate opens with a warning seemingly designed to intimidate the viewer into slack-jawed submission: “Everything you are about to see actually happened.”

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For those not remotely familiar with the biggest scandal in modern American politics, those words might be necessary. But for anyone who has seen All the President’s Men, Nixon, The Post, Frost/Nixon or Dick – or for anyone who has ever cracked the slimmest of U.S. history books – there is little in Ferguson’s super-sized doc that will necessitate smelling salts. Which isn’t to say that the Oscar-winning director’s four-hour-plus film isn’t smoothly assembled and jammed with expert analysis. It’s only that most of the material gathered here is rehashed and revelation-less, while the parts that don’t feel familiar – such as recurring reenactments starring character actor Douglas Hodge as Tricky Dick – come off as just-this-side-of-silly.

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For those entering grade school, there is likely no better and more concise primer on the scandal. For everyone else, well, you know the story.

Watergate screens in two parts starting June 14 at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto (hotdocs.ca).

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