starring Andy Garcia, Robert Prosky, harry Belafolnte, Milo O’Shea, Ray Walston and James Whitmore
written by Ron Bass and Jane Rusconi
directed by David Anspaugh
If American society mystifies you and you want an explanation of some of its weirder aspects then you might find Swing Vote interesting. I thought it was.
To begin with, I was interested in the cast. Not only Andy Garcia who has grown magnificently as an actor over the last decade, but the others as well. In particular, I was happy to se the aging Ray Walston, a character actor who keeps cropping up time and again over the years. He is perhaps best remembered for two roles: as a sailor with a large tattoo of a ship on his stomach in the musical South Pacific, based on a collection of World War II stories f the same title by James Michener; and, as the high school teacher, Mr. Hand, playing opposite a young Sean Penn in the classic high school film Fast Times at Ridgemount High. Robert Prosky, Harry Belafonte, James Whitmore - they all make for a
fabulous supporting cast.
Andy Garcia is “co-executive producer” next to the movie’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer. This means that he put up some of his own money for the film. That means, I suppose, that the story must be something that he believes in. Or not.
It revolves around the abortion debate in America. I think that many Japanese cannot appreciate the position that abortion has there, since it is so common and popular here as a birth control and family planning strategy. In the U.S.it is a very volatile issue that pits conservative religious groups against women’s rights groups, and it is a hot political potato.
In Swing Vote the movie begins with the premise that a new preponderance of conservatives on the Supreme Court has led to the over-turning of the famous 1973 Roe versus. Wade decision that made abortion-on-demand not only legal in America, but a woman’s civil right. In the last thirty years political conservatives and the Religious Right in the U.S. have never ceased being in a frenzied lather over it. They see Roe v. Wade as the trumpet heralding the end of civilization. The questions of the sanctity of human life, when human life really begins, who properly has control of whose body, and in what manner and for what time, whose legal rights have precedence, the weighing and positioning of the father’s rights in the whole matter are part of the debate. These and other issues as well get aired in Swing Vote.
If you don’t agree with abortion then don’t have one. My advice is that we keep our noses out of each other’s genitals.
With the retirement of one Supreme Court Justice a young Joseph Kirkland (Garcia) is nominated and approved as a replacement just when a new abortion case is coming before the bench. After overturning Roe v. Wade individual sates were allowed to make their own abortion laws. Now from Alabama, one of the deep south Bible Belt states, comes a woman appealing her conviction there of first degree murder for having an abortion - punishable by a possible death sentence from the sate if the Supreme Court does not intervene somehow. By most standards the state’s law is undue, so the country’s attention is on the Supreme court as it meets n an unprecedented emergency session to reconsider the whole abortion question.
Because Justice Kirkland is a novice who was a criminal lawyer rather than a magistrate before his nomination, his views on abortion are not well known. He quickly becomes the tie-breaking ‘swing vote’ on the panel to decide whether abortion remains illegal and criminal or whether the it will be sanctioned once again.
Robert Prosky lays the conniving, clever, crusty old Chief of the Supreme Court and I thought he brilliantly showed the hidden politicking that goes on even there.
Swing Vote is a film that will grab you, may you angry, or happy. Feminists need to keep abortion legal as part of their platform of female control over their own bodies. Right-to-Lifers need to outlaw it in order to put a stop to the imagined breakdown of traditional family values and the depravity of society that stems from it.
My position is to keep abortion legal. If you don’t agree with it then don’t have one. My advice is that we keep our noses out of each other’s genitals.