A strong dose of realpolitik

Those hoping the United Nations might act, in a forthright and timely fashion, to head off disaster on the Korean Peninsula should not go to see this movie.

Director: Gaylene Preston
Cast: Helen Clark
Rating: (E) ★★★+

They would be disabused of any such cause for optimism well before the end of the 93 minutes' running time.

For the United Nations that emerges from My Year With Helen is a hidebound and compromised organisation.

Gaylene Preston's film follows our former PM's tilt at the top job in the UN. As her documentary shows, Helen Clark was clearly the best candidate, and it was past time for a woman to be chosen.

Clark is the hero of the story, as she strides the halls of the New York bureaucracy sharing her Kiwi colloquialisms with all and sundry. In fact, that is the principal treat for New Zealand audiences here: watching one of our own, embracing her diphthongs and speaking plainly and honestly on the big stage.

It is a credit to the energy Gaylene Preston manages to impart to the film's central narrative - the contest to become UN secretary-general - that for the first part of the film at least, it's easy to get caught up in the prospect that Clark might actually do it.

For a period somewhere after the halfway mark, the momentum falters, as Clark appears only fitfully on the screen while we listen to various talking heads discuss her chances. Well, we know, now, what they were.

But here is the rub: will anyone remember the name of the grey gentleman from Portugal who actually won? And what's he doing about the Koreas? Clark would have sorted it by now, for sure. The proof of that is all here.

 - Tom Mckinlay

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