American politics was shaken when Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America. When he was elected in 2016, America as a country started to become more divided than ever before. The Reunited States is a feature-length documentary that follows a family from Texas who decide to sell their house and buy an RV and travel to every single state in America to explore what issues divide people and what the main reasons are as to why tensions are so high. Both David and Erin Leaverton voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election but quickly denounced him and the party after his dirty politics started to cause chaos in the country. David, a former Republican strategist, who rejects his aggressive political work seeks to shine a light on the importance of coming together and learning more about the groups of people who work to de-escalate the tension across the country.
The documentary itself is a short one, but it’s rammed with many different talking points. Racism, the rise of white supremacy, the importance of Independents in American politics, loss, discrimination, and the message of unity. For a documentary to cover so much, it needs to be longer so that every aspect of the message it’s conveying has its moment to shine. Around the halfway mark, the Leaverton’s visit a Navajo reservation and talk with a local group leader who provides support and food to people in the reservation. Some of these people haven’t eaten in five days. It’s a pressing subject and one that isn’t clearly talked about enough. But it’s only on screen for about 5 minutes. The documentary isn’t fairly balanced between different talking points. This is such a shame as the idea of the documentary is a great one and one that is important for a lot of people to watch and understand, especially in this political climate but it could be executed a bit better.
America has always been a long-standing rivalry between Republicans and Democrats. The idea that someone could pull ideals from both parties and unite a country as an Independent seems like a lost idea to a lot of voters. Greg Orman, an Independent in Kansas is given the limelight for a period during the documentary and follows his travels across the states to sell the benefits of Independent politics. In addition to this, another part that seemed vital throughout was the story of Susan Bro. Susan’s daughter Heather Heyer was murdered in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 during the white supremacist march. Since her daughter’s death, Susan has talked to many groups about highlighting the fact that due to Heather being white, she has got national coverage and is shedding a light on people of colour who have died and have not received press due to systematic racism in the country.
The Reunited States explores hard-hitting stories that are prevalent in America right now. It tackles more than it can chew and struggles to juggle between the many different aspects that the documentary covers. It would have been more interesting to see every subject get a fair runtime and would benefit from being longer or run as a documentary series where we can learn and digest information better than its present state. Although it suffers from not covering enough bases, it’s still an informative documentary that is important for all to watch.
Dir: Ben Rekhi
Cast: Erin Leaverton, David Leaverton, Susan Bro & Meghan McCain
DOP: John Golden Britt, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo & Sam Price-Waldman
Runtime: 84 Minutes
The Reunited States is available now on Digital Download via iTunes, Google Play and Xbox