"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" makes no pretense about being a balanced documentary. From the onset, it's clear that the filmmakers are firmly on the side of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his loyalist forces.
That might be fine if the film wasn't trying to make a point about supposed one-sided newsgathering and propaganda. And it certainly would be more excusable if the film didn't do so many things that put into question the film's veracity. For example, the camera is always there to capture the most crucial and pivotal moments from the attempted coup that forced Chavez from office for a handful of days in 2001.
Still, as suspicious as some of it seems, the film does manage to score points when it refrains from being so heavy-handed and manipulative.
Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain examine the political career of Chavez, whose alleged ties to Cuban leader Fidel Castro and taxes on oil exports haven't gone over well with U.S. leaders. He continues to be popular with his constituency, although a growing minority of privileged Venezuelans make plans to oust Chavez and replace him with a more capitalism-friendly government led by oil magnate Pedro Carmona.
This powerful coalition also attempts to use the local news media to control what information is disseminated to the people to, in effect, put their own spin on their takeover bid.
There's a lot of potentially fascinating material here, and yet Bartley and O'Briain's film is frustratingly unfocused. (Their attempt to tie the U.S. government to the Venezuelan coup is cursory at best.)
Still, the film does at least make you want to find out more about Venezuelan politics as well as U.S. foreign policy regarding the country, so on that score it succeeds.
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is not rated but would probably receive an R for graphic footage of violence (rioting and shootings), scattered use of strong sexual profanity and some crude slang terms, gore and brief drug content (drug trade talk). Running time: 74 minutes.
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