Rachel Lears‘ Knock Down The House (Netflix, 5.1) isn’t just an AOC thing; it also focuses on three other upstart progressive candidates — West Virginia’s Paula Jean Swearengin, St. Louis nurse Cori Bush, and Nevada’s Amy Vilela.
But as Variety‘s Amy Nicholson wrote last January, “You can’t blame [the film] for seizing on its good fortune to have begun following Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign even before the 28-year-old waitress earned her name on the ballot.
“AOC needed slightly more than 1,000 signatures to qualify; she gathered 10,000, under the assumption that the election board — all of whom, she notes, were appointed by Crowley — would toss out as many as possible. Overperformance is her mantra. ‘For every 10 rejections, you get one acceptance, and that’s how you win everything,’ she insists to her niece as they hand out flyers on the sidewalk.
“Lears’ access to Ocasio-Cortez’s six month campaign is incredible. “Knock Down the House is there as she puts on her makeup, lugs ice at her day job (where she appears to fix a mean margarita), frets that her voice goes up an octave when she gets nervous, and sighs that male candidates need only two outfits: a suit or a shirt with rolled-up sleeves. [And] Lears is there in the cramped, sloppy apartment Ocasio-Cortez shares with her supportive boyfriend, and at that first debate with Crowley where he didn’t even bother to show up.
“As Crowley’s proxy fumblingly defends his vote for the Iraq War, Ocasio-Cortez rallies the crowd to her side, and afterward they crush around her with their individual concerns as though no one’s bothered to listen to them for years. Crowley shows up for the second and third debates, where Lears observes a comedy payoff: The veteran representative, realizing this young woman is winning over the room, anxiously rolls up his sleeves.”