Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer

2010, Politics  -  76 min Leave a Comment
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Across the internet, in university classrooms, and in small American towns like Meadville, the story of R. Budd Dwyer's political downfall and subsequent end is told; still there are many people today who wouldn't know him if asked to look at a picture and identify the man, and likely just as few who know him by name. It is the story of Dywer's very public and statement making suicide, and the fact that it was televised, that transcends.

Honest Man provides a deeper look into the story of former State Rep. and Pennsylvania Treasurer Budd Dwyer, his background, people who knew him in varying capacities, and the so called conspiracy that many who were closest to him, and some who were certainly not, point to as the true reason behind the former politician and family man's decision to end his life. It doesn't matter what your level of familiarity is with the story or the man.

Maybe you were around for and aware of the entire ordeal back in 1987, maybe you'll remember halfway through that his televised death was mentioned in a course you took as an example of where the arguments behind censorship and ethics in the media come from, maybe not, but either way it doesn't take long to get interested once you begin to view the film, and most will likely have a strong emotional reaction to the film.

The one negative in the film, has nothing to do with the shooting, graphics, or anything technical, but arguments made by Dywer's children that cut down the efforts to paint him as a good man, a man of the people who wanted nothing more than to serve his constituents and know that his family held the same values as he did.

Implications by Dwyer's son and daughter that the jury who found him guilty was either too uneducated or too poor (i.e. working jobs insignificant enough to be able to take eight days off to do their civic duty) is a show of their own personal opinions, but it reflects on Dywer of course, because that is who they are there to talk about, and the roughly half an hour that was just used to describe a man whose opinions are not made out to match those of his children is suddenly mired by statements that would strike most people as the type of thing you simply don't say.

Still, this is a message, and piece of American history that should be disused and shared and the director's cut of Honest Man handles the retelling of this story in a powerful way that seeks to supply us with objective facts and subjective accounts from people with some authority on the matter, and never seems to seek to sway the viewer's thoughts one way or the other.