Mike Wallace is Here
Akin to the “gotcha” journalism that Mike Wallace popularized and defined in modern cable news television, Avi Belkin’s Mike Wallace is Here utilizes particular documentary techniques that are ubiquitous in contemporary American cinema. But the banal strategies evoked here - the talking heads, the conversational mode of exploring Wallace’s past, the deployment of archival footage, etc. – are rendered with a greater sense of urgency. Whether it’s the rapid shift from all these aforementioned modes, the almost experimental transitions that compose the film, the synthesizer score that borrows extensively from the works of Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Cliff Martinez, or simply Wallace’s persuasive presence, Mike Wallace is Here is so compulsively watchable that it’s easy to forget that you’ve seen a dozen documentary films like it before. Yet what elevates Belkin’s film beyond hagiography is a brief narrative respite where Wallace discusses his depression and subsequent suicide attempt, in one of those rare moments where the portrait of an immovable, profoundly practical man is blurred. And the film is littered with these moments, where Wallace’s journalistic contributions are acknowledged in conjunction with his numerous defeats – a film that sees Wallace as what he always strived to be: tough but fair.