Review: What Is Democracy? is a slack but thoughtful documentary


WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? (Astra Taylor). 107 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (January 4). See listing. Rating: NNN

In her latest documentary, Winnipeg filmmaker Astra Taylor (Zizek!, Examined Life) visits America and western Europe to pose the eponymous question to academics, politicians and ordinary civilians.

It’s not a spoiler to say that everyone has a different answer, and that some of those answers are more illuminating than others. Cornel West invokes Sly Stone’s Everyday People maybe two minutes into his clip, an ingenious, easily understood point of reference.

The doc is a bit slack, with Taylor offering up one talking head after another, breaking up the sections with thoughtful quotes from Plato’s Republic.

But I’m not sure a slicker, sharper version of this would serve any purpose. It’s all about patient discourse, and we need to be willing to sit still and listen.



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