Running with Beto goes Behind The Scenes

Beto O’Rourke in Running with Beto. (Charlie Gross/Courtesy of HBO)

Running with Beto goes behind the scenes of Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 U.S. Senate campaign as he sought to defeat Ted Cruz in Texas.

As far as political documentaries are concerned, this film doesn’t break any new ground.  It may be fascinating to watch but this is the extent.  Even the film’s relevancy needs to be questioned in the sense of whether this is because of the senate race or presidential campaign.  Last year, O’Rourke was the hot commodity.  It’s all because of how well he did against Cruz in a state that’s very red.  At one point, the race would be downgraded from solid to likely Republican.  O’Rourke would become the closest Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat since 1988!  It would be the closest senate race in Texas since a decade before that!

There are 254 counties in Texas.  Then-Congressman O’Rourke would change things up by visiting one county at a time.  This may very well explain why he went from an unknown candidate to a household name.  Attending the state party convention offers a new perspective.  It gives him his largest audience.  Before this, he would only speak with smaller crowds.  You can’t help but sense his nerves.

A father of three, we also get a sense of how the campaign effects his family.  There is a lot of traveling involved with any political campaign.  Never mind his serving in Congress!  It does help to explain why some people wait until their children are older.  The family aspect is one of the best parts in watching Running with Beto.

It’s only natural that O’Rourke takes a trip to investigate the activities at the border when we learn that families are being separated.  This may very well be the most heartbreaking aspect of the film.  One can’t help but feel sympathy for those families.  All they want is a better life in America.  It makes you wonder about the American Dream.  Is it still real?  I’m sorry for getting distracted here but there are real evils going on in our own country.  Evils that draw parallels to what took place in the years leading up to World War 2.  But I digress.  It’s films like these that serve to remind us that we still have a lot of work to do.

Since the film’s SXSW premiere, O’Rourke would go on to announce his presidential campaign.  Whether Running with Beto will help keep the eye on the prize remains to be seen.  What is for certain is that there are a gazillion Democratic candidates running for president.  There’s no telling what will happen over the next year.

Running with Beto is a solid look at the inner-workings of a senate campaign but if you’re looking to learn something new here, this isn’t that film.

DIRECTOR:  David Modigliani
FEATURING:  Beto O’Rourke, Marcel McClinton, Amanda Salas, Shannon Gay

HBO will air Running with Beto on May 28, 2019 at 8:00-9:30 PM ET/PT. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.