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Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Comey Rule review: An absorbing political drama

While I still do not wholly believe the narrative The Comey Rule propounds - that James Comey was trying to do the right thing, and did not intend what happened - it does mount a strong, eloquent defence in favour of the former FBI director.

Written by Kshitij Rawat | New Delhi | September 28, 2020 8:53:24 pm
the comey rule, comey rule, jeff daniels, brendon gleesonThe Comey Rule is available on Voot Select. (Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg/CBS Television Studios/SHOWTIME)

I was dubious about the CBS miniseries The Comey Rule, mainly because it seemed like it was going to be too soft on its hero, James Comey. It did not help that the creator Billy Ray used Comey’s own book (A Higher Loyalty) to write the script. It all seemed one-sided.

While I still do not wholly believe the narrative it propounds — that Comey was trying to do the right thing, and did not intend what happened — The Comey Rule does mount a strong, eloquent defence in favour of the former director of Federal Bureau of Investigation. And also, it excels in the entertainment aspect. It is a downright absorbing dramatisation of those fateful months surrounding the 2016 US Presidential Election.

James Comey is a man who has been hated by both Democrats and Republicans for two different reasons. Under him, the FBI reopened an investigation into Hilary Clinton’s use of a private server for official email communication two weeks before the election. This is now widely believed to be one of the biggest reasons the public opinion tilted in Donald Trump’s favour.

Jeff Daniels comey rule, Jeff Daniels , comey rule Jeff Daniels as James Comey in The Comey Rule. (Photo: Showtime/CBS)

The Republicans came to abhor Comey after it was revealed that he had begun drafting an exoneration letter for Clinton even before the investigation’s completion.

Donald Trump decided to keep James Comey as the Bureau’s chief — for a while. When Comey did not back down from probing into Trump administration’s Russia links, the US President fired him.

Needless to say, Comey’s story potentially has more drama and suspense than anything an author of political thrillers can come up with.

In that regard, The Comey Rule is a stupendous achievement. Thanks to some strong dialogues, performances and direction, The Comey Rule remains gripping throughout.

Jeff Daniels is a delight to watch and for some reason… soothing. I have no other word for it. Daniel’s performance had a placating effect on me.

His work should also do wonders for James Comey’s reputation. Daniels’ FBI director is a composed man and always has a genuinely charming smile on his lips, despite the chaos around him. He is principled in an old-school way, and nice to those beneath him, including his juniors in the bureau. He is a gentleman.

Brendan Gleeson comey rule, comey rule trump, comey rule Brendan Gleeson as Donald Trump. (Photo: Showtime/CBS)

Now, I am not sure if Comey, the real one, is that man, but the fact that an actor like Jeff Daniels played the role which was written in a way to show him in a good light should be the best thing that happened to him in years.

Brendan Gleeson’s Donald Trump is another beast entirely. I would not remotely have pictured Gleeson as Trump. But the Irish actor does a superb job in capturing the little details and mannerisms of the president. He does not overdo it like Alec Baldwin (which, to be fair, serves its purpose in SNL’s comedy skits, but would have been unbearable here), and appears to be Trump just enough to suspend disbelief.

The character is written pretty ably. This Trump does speak and behave in a way I imagine Trump is in real-life: like a spoiled child accustomed to getting what he wants. And also, one who is ridiculously the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

Like I said James Comey is the hero of this story, and is painted as a man almost entirely without flaws and who is bent on doing the “right thing”. But despite all that, Comey does not come out unscathed in The Comey Rule. No amount of self-righteousness can whitewash the fact that Comey may have had a hand in turning the tide of one of the most important presidential elections in the history of the United States.

The Comey Rule is streaming on Voot Select.

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