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It would be hard to find a documentary more cinematic than Revenge of the Electric Car. Framed as a thriller, following the personal struggles of four charismatic men and their automotive creations, its scenes of corporate deliberations are shot with such intimacy that it’s hard to believe they weren’t scripted and staged. Through an astonishing level of access, filmmaker Chris Paine sketches not only a battle for survival in the new low-carbon economy, but also captures some supremely confident leaders who at times seem sustained by hubris alone. (Cameos by Danny DeVito and Adrian Grenier only add twinkle to the glitz.) At this stage, electric car development is still all about perception: Teetering auto empires need to prove they’re still relevant, and sexy new startups have to show they can actually produce cars. In this case, the subject matter justifies even the most absurdly dramatic presentation.

The film shows all week at E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. $11. (202) 452-7672.