Inspirational Drama ‘The Congressman’ Can’t Quite Make Us Feel for a Pol Who’s Lost His Zeal


Jared Martin and former New York congressman Robert J. Mrazek’s The Congressman has the trappings of another harmless, male-oriented midlife crisis picture, including a widow whose sexual proclivities reawaken a fire in fictional Maine congressman Charlie Winship (Treat Williams), who has grown apathetic about his job yet still prioritizes it over his now ex-wife and friends.

But in today’s political climate, it’s difficult to engender sympathy for a well-paid, publicly elected figure who is no longer energized despite the obvious perks. Winship still collects heaps of lobbyist money to fuel his campaign, but his chief of staff (Ryan Merriman) and a former congressman (George Hamilton) are secretly rallying populist support against him, with plans to steal his seat and sign a controversial fishing-grounds bill.

The aloof Winship retreats to the remote island town of Catatonk to investigate an ongoing lobster-fishing feud but ends up discovering a new lease on life. The vibrantly colored and inspirational sunsets off the coast of Monhegan Island are a lovely setting for the lengthy discussions about passion and commitment. Yet the calming beauty only adds to the soporific effect of the cast’s emotionally restrained performances.

Despite featuring two lead actors from House of Cards (Elizabeth Marvel and Jayne Atkinson), The Congressman‘s politics and morals are childishly simple, featuring archvillains suffering buffoonish pratfalls and love stories that start up abruptly and quickly fizzle. If not for the adult language and themes — including an ill-defined, budding homosexual relationship — these simple lessons in grounding oneself would feel right at home in a family film. Still, at times it can be hard to resist the movie’s New England charms, as when fishermen pluck ruby-red lobsters from the sea.

The Congressman
Directed by Robert J. Mrazek and Jared Martin
Opens April 29, City Cinemas 1 2 3