Raise Hell: The Life And Times Of Molly Ivins Review


Director: Janice Engel
Starring: Harold Cook, Rachel Maddow, Dan Rather, Molly Ivins

Raise Hell: The Life And Times Of Molly Ivins is quite possibly one of the most important documentaries to have come out in 2019, and you might not have heard of it.

Don’t worry, I didn’t either before being invited to a very special and exclusive screening of the movie and after having seen the film, I couldn’t help but think this documentary needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

Why, you ask? Because Molly Ivins was one of the most brilliant, witty, scathing and important journalists of the 21st Century, and very few people outside of the United States, outside of Texas for that matter, knows her name.

After watching Raise Hell, you’ll quickly find yourself Googling the journalist and looking for her books and articles just to get another hit of her incredible wit and pointed political commentary.

The documentary, directed masterfully by veteran documentarian and filmmaker Janice Engel, is basically a biopic, but don’t let that put you off.

Just because it’s a biopic of a dead person doesn’t mean this film serves no purpose or ends up being borning.

Molly Ivins knew how to Raise Hell

Molly Ivins was a very important and special person

Molly Ivins was a very important and special person – Credit: Magnolia Pictures

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Much the contrary. One of the reasons why Raise Hell works so well and is so engrossing is because Engel opted to make it a biopic and just let Molly’s words do the talking.

Molly was part of a dying bread of journalist. She was someone who was categorically unafraid to speak her mind, and she was writing during one of the most worrying times of American and world politics.

She wasn’t scared of telling politicians exactly what she thought of them and she didn’t care about the consequences to her career, of which there were many.

Molly was a journalist who terrified politicians and they cared about what she thought of them because they knew people listened to her.

Try and think of any journalist like that today. You’ll find yourself struggling to name anyone.

The only people I can think of in today’s society that comes close to what Molly had are the likes of John Oliver, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah.

They all present very political TV shows and have writers’ rooms.

Molly didn’t have that. She was her own writers’ room, and that’s part of her brilliance.

One of the things that really stayed with me about Raise Hell was that Engel was also unafraid to show the whole picture when tackling her subject.

Yes, it discusses all of her achievements, her brilliance, he charisma, her unique Texan charm and her wit, yet it also doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of her life.

The drinking, the drugs, her mistakes and missteps.

It’s really a documentary that gives you a well-rounded picture of the woman, and by the end of the film, you still love her.

In fact, you probably end up loving her even more than you would have done if it was just all the good stuff.

Where is today’s Molly Ivins?

Molly Ivins was the voice of Texas

Molly Ivins was the voice of Texas – Credit: Magnolia Pictures

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We live in a difficult, trying and worrying times. Our politics are all askew and it seems as though we live in a time that rewards hatred and extreme-right wing views.

We’re in desperate need of someone like Molly Ivins, but they are too far and few between.

The fact that I hadn’t heard of her up until the moment I sat down to watch the film is both a testament to my ignorance, but also to the fact that the mainstream media was never really willing to put her words in print.

We need people to call out our leaders. We need our newspapers to be braver about what they publish and be unafraid of the backlash.

We need someone like Molly Ivins to hold these politicians to account, and yes, we do have a few today, but nobody does it quite like Molly did.

Nobody has the turn of phrase and the ‘don’t fuck with me’ attitude that she did.

Raise Hell’s tag line is ‘Her Pen Was Mightier Than Her Politics’, and boy was it. The question I ask myself is where is the next Molly Ivins?

Raise Hell needs you!

Molly Ivins in Raise Hell: The Life And Times Of Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins in Raise Hell: The Life And Times Of Molly Ivins – Credit: Magnolia Pictures

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One of the other things I love about Raise Hell is that it’s a biopic about a great journalist and a great woman, but it’s also about so much more than that.

By looking back at the past, Janice Engel’s film shows us how we are making the same mistakes today.

The only problem I had with Raise Hell was that it’s not easy to find.

It doesn’t have a UK or European distributor, yet Engel and the film’s producers, Carlisle Vandervoort and James Egan are looking for one.

You can watch the movie via iTunes and Amazon Prime Video, but it really does deserve to be seen in a cinema.

So, if you know of anyone who might be able to help out, then please contact the film’s producers or me and I’ll relay the message.

What do you make of this review? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook or Instagram pages!

And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out Small Screen Radio wherever you get your podcasts!

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