Monrovia Indiana

LetterboxD review link

I grew up in a normal, American town like Monrovia (in fact it was so normal it’s called Normal, Illinois). I used to think every adult who lived in that town was either an idiot or down on their luck. Why would anyone choose to live in a place so boring, so plain, so quiet, so…normal? Unlike teenage me, Frederick Wiseman treats the characters in this film with much more respect. And as a result, you get a compelling, observational documentary that gives you a civics and democracy lesson more useful than any text book or certainly anything you’re likely to learn from political journalism in our current era.

The scenes in small government meetings, in funeral homes, in high schools and in churches paint some of the best pictures of the modern midwest I’ve seen on screen. I appreciated the way this film allowed me, with emotional and physical distance, to step back into my life from 12 years ago, and try to understand, with some amount of journalistic distance, how and why people choose to live lives like this in modern America.