Best of Enemies08 Sep 2015
Best of Enemies was funny, mostly light-hearted, and tried to treat both central figures equitably. But Buckley’s influence over modern conservatism, arguably, looms larger than Vidal’s over modern liberalism. This makes any equitable treatment of them as central characters in a documentary a difficult task. However, through strong editing and use of archival footage Best of Enemies gets close to accomplishing this task.
I also liked the little but effective use of narration from Kelsey Grammar and John Lithgow, although I would’ve swapped the two. Lithgow should have definitely narrated Buckley’s passages.
I’m basically asking for a different documentary when I say this, I realize, but I would’ve loved to learn more about Buckley and Vidal’s upbringing. Their outsider status as Eastern elites, but then almost complete adoption of East coast elitism was fascinating. Over their careers they became synonymous with East-coast intellectual elites but didn’t start out in that pedigree. Their Horatio Algerian mythical upbringings and rises to fame, undoubtedly, informed their politics.