Well executed documentary

No matter what you might think about Monica Lewinski or former U.S. President Clinton, there's something morbidly fascinating about the situation that unfolded a few short years ago. That appeal can come from many angles, from wondering about how the affair could have happened with such a public figure, to amazement over the enormous hubbub of the fallout, to puzzling over the strange connivances of Linda Tripp.

Monica in Black and White is Lewinski's latest attempt to explain her side of the affair, a documentary from HBO's amazing production company. She's been trying to get out her side for some time, from a book to television interviews, but this breaks some new ground from its format, and also from the fact that certain topics were now open for discussion, previously blocked by her immunity agreement. One nitpick was that the latter was not well explained - presumably the term of that (part of?) the agreement had lapsed. As for the format, Monica took questions from an audience over three days, all questions were okay to ask, but she could choose not to answer. These questions and answers were organized and framed by segments of newsclips and facts related to the escalating situation.

Monica is strong and vulnerable. It's clear she's gone through a lot and is determined to both clear up her part of the whole affair and stand up for her own dignity. It's tough ground, and she does break down a couple times. As this was an edited piece, it's hard to really know how difficult the shoot was, but the inclusion of these moments is an acknowledgment of a sort of what she went through. The audience was largely friendly, but curious and probing as well.

The "Black and White" of the title refers to the fact that the segments with Monica were presented without color. Visually, there may never have been a prettier Q&A session. I'm trying to check up to be sure, but it certainly looked like it was shot on film. Good camera work, and reveals shots of the audience as well. The interstitial clips work well to frame each segment without breaking the tone of the piece.

Ultimately, your enjoyment will be proportional to your interest in the affair. If the whole media blitz bored you, so will this. The main difference here is that we get the telling of it all without the sensationalism.

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