There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
When it comes to abortion, “Everybody is right.” That line, spoken by none other than Mr. Liberal Pillar himself, Alan Morton Dershowitz, just—poof—softly floats to the ground about midway through Lake of Fire, Tony Kaye’s documentary about the Big Issue. Kaye’s professed goal of presenting a balanced portrait of abortion in America nearly 35 years after Roe v. Wade exists somewhere in that small moment, although it’s almost trampled by his efforts to give equal time—a lot of equal time in this three-plus-hour doc—to other big names. Interviews with and footage of Noam Chomsky, Paul Hill, Peter Singer, Alan Keyes, Norma “Jane Roe” McCorvey, Joycelyn Elders, Randall Terry, Pat Buchanan, Nat Hentoff—should I go on?—shuffle in and out of the film. Many of the subjects say, and often shout, what you expect from their respective side of the divide. Still Kaye, who’s clearly drawn to sticky issues (American History X is his other baby), takes in both the talkers and the shouters in a relatively unbiased way, shooting it all stylishly in black and white. If he ends up going a half-hour too long, if he ends up just too in love with some of his tape—well, it took him 15 years to make this film, and he’s put a lot of thought into it. And the film has many moments worth lingering on, notably those involving women who’ve struggled with their decisions, some of them speaking eloquently and painfully with their backs to the camera. “This is a question impossible to answer in the abstract,” says Dershowitz, who can now add a new title to his lengthy resume: the Buddha of Lake of Fire.