‘Pelosi in the House’ Review: Keeping Her House in Order

For “Pelosi in the House,” the documentarian Alexandra Pelosi had what is surely unprecedented access to film her mother, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But that didn’t necessarily make things easy. “You’re a tough nut to crack,” Alexandra says about half an hour in, noting that Nancy is always on message. “If that’s what you want to do,” the speaker replies. “Crack your mom.”

So what does this long-gestating, obviously affectionate, obviously politically sympatico account of Nancy Pelosi’s career, including her rise to and tenures as the first female House speaker, have to offer? For a start, it provides an unusual opportunity to watch Pelosi negotiate legislation and rally votes. She’s seen working the phone in 2009 and 2010 trying to drum up support from caucus members wavering on the Affordable Care Act.

Footage of Pelosi at home inevitably has a light touch. At one point, Alexandra shows her parents making simultaneous phone calls; with their voices competing for attention, Paul Pelosi, who was attacked with a hammer in late October, discusses mundanities about their house while Nancy talks about the approach to a Trump impeachment inquiry. At the beginning of the pandemic, it appears even Nancy Pelosi had to prop up her laptop with a crate and cushions to get video interview eyelines right.

The movie also shows Pelosi reacting in the moment to the events of Jan. 6, 2021. (Some of the material, showing congressional leaders at a secure location trying to determine whether they could return to the Capitol, was shared earlier this year by the House select committee investigating the attack.) HBO announced an air date for the documentary less than two weeks after Pelosi said she would not seek another term as the Democrats’ House leader. That floor speech is excerpted during the closing credits.

Pelosi in the House
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes. Watch on HBO platforms.

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