Sam Clark paints a picture of white ignorance and privilege with his performance in Fairview, a mockumentary about a guy running for City Council in Colorado under no platform as he desperately seeks a slogan from opposing sides. He steals the room with his bravado. Like Michael Scott in the Office, he is someone you love to cringe over.
Unlike Michael, though, Sam Clark’s fictional Sam Clark for city council has a hot temper that adds a satirical layer. Like a kid who doesn’t get his way, he tosses a computer on the floor in anger at the sight of a banner print job gone wrong. It feels frighteningly relevant to the US’s own recent orange-haired wannabe autocrat throwing all too familiar fits in the past. Sam Clark clearly isn’t afraid to push boundaries.
In an embarrassing act of ignorance, he appears dumbfounded at the prospect of “All Lives Matter” being offensive. His genuine shock plays to his ignorance. He balances his cringy ignorance with charm. Even in the middle of all his infractions, his general “for the people” nature could have meaning if he bothered to delve deeper into social issues.
From the lovable slacker, Jessie, to the voice of reason, Derek, the supporting cast members pepper the film nicely. Although some of the cutaways to Jessie feel gratuitous, not necessarily advancing the narrative, his comedic performance and natural ability to improvise make up for it. Similarly all characters balance naturalism with improv. They do not call attention to themselves with sitcom-style jokes, but rather the comedy emerges from character-building.
Like a good Sacha Baron Cohen sketch, the people interviewed help highlight the problems in our world. The first group interviewed are part of Colorado’s immigrant council. They don’t want to offer Sam Clark the time of day when they realize he seeks a platform and an endorsement. They want someone they know can talk policy.
Contrastingly, the Republicans know Sam Clark is playing the game, and kind of egg his behavior on. It’s gaslighty in an appropriately satirical way. Whether these folks interviewed were planted as actors or not is unclear, but either way it effectively showed both political sides of the spectrum in a revealing way.