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Bob Roberts

At first, Robbins' self-styled political satire doesn't seem to be satirising anything. You can see he's parodying the mythical race for Washington, but with such an outlandish character (a folk-singing, fencing, Wall Street raider Senatorial candidate) you wonder who he's jibing at.

The story, told through the lens and narrative of a documentary film maker with near perfect realism, follows his race to be elected to the US senate. Everyone loves and believes his all-American boy made good image and he hotly contests the existing, tolerant senator (Vidal).

But as the senatorial race is whipped up to deafening levels by controversy, the cracks start to appear in his and his associates' armour. Portrayed with subtle brilliance, you can see that in making the film, Roberts was parodying the entire Washington system. In the words of an investigative reporter determined to pin activities involving the (real life) US scandals of Savings and Loan and Iran-Contra on Roberts, modern government has become a 'big business liaison'.

Robbins takes characteristics of politics to comic extremes but the story somehow remains grounded in reality and you could be forgiven for thinking it could be a real documentary. It finishes with a big question mark obviously intended to parallel the careers of other shady politicians who've never had to account for their unconstitutional activities.

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