After winning an award from the Sundance Film Festival, Stephen Marshall’s name has become almost synonymous with daring. Globally conscious and prone to risk taking, Marshall, who created the first VHS global newsmagazine Channel Zero and co-founded the Guerilla News Network (IMDb) pays homage to Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool with his docudrama This Revolution. Shot in one hundred days, This Revolution centers on a young edgy reporter with a last name that’s a bit too on the nose-- Jake Cassavetes (played music video and commercial director Nathan Crooker)-- who found his priorities and world view changed after spending time filming the war in Baghdad. No longer wanting to-- as he says-- suck up to the rich corporations who run the networks, he butts heads with Chloe (Amy Redford) who in addition to being his boss shares his bed on a casual basis but politics begins to drive them apart as tough-talking Chloe who tells Jake to get her “the edgiest stuff” he can on the phone while standing next to a poster for the Lumet film Network pushes Jake away as he takes to the streets to film the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Movie posters are everywhere in the film and perhaps one of the most telling shows up within the first ten minutes in Jake’s bathroom in the form of Weir’s The Year of Living Dangerously. Instinctively, we know this assignment coupled with everything he’s seen overseas will affect his view and ability to remain objective and his beliefs and convictions are tested yet again when he befriends a beautiful, rebellious and radical widowed bookseller Tina Santiago (Rosario Dawson) and her young son (Brett Deluono). Although by this point, the atmospheric film that near the end suddenly turns into Antitrust feels a bit dated and the earnest and unpolished turns by Crooker and Redford (who may not have been directed right) do hinder the success of a film that seems to swing back and forth from pretentious to cheesy like a pendulum, it’s the radiant, fiery and passionate Dawson whose performance escalates This Revolution and makes it feel distinctly authentic. In fact, she may have been too convincing as you may recall when, while filming scenes with other cast members playing a subversive group, Dawson along with others were mistaken for real activists and arrested on the spot and footage of Dawson’s actual arrest made its way into the film (IMDb). Now available on DVD, you may also be able to find This Revolution on regular rotation in the Sundance Channel programming guide as not only is Marshall a Sundance favorite but actress Amy Redford is the daughter of Sundance founder Robert Redford.