Synopsis by Mark Deming
The life and career of one of America's most tenacious consumer advocates and political activists is brought to the screen in this richly detailed documentary. Born in a small town in Connecticut, Ralph Nader was raised to believe the words of his father that "you can fight city hall," and Nader made a nationwide reputation for his willingness to take on the wealthy and powerful. After receiving a degree from Harvard Law School, Nader first became a household name in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, in which he detailed the auto industry's willingness to sacrifice safety in the name of greater profits. The book so outraged General Motors that they hired investigators to dig up dirt on Nader and make trouble for him; the plan backfired when Nader sued for invasion of privacy and walked away with a 425,000-dollar settlement that he used to set up an activist group to investigate both public servants and private commerce and how they live up to their responsibilities. However, Nader's long career as a incorruptible watchdog was tarnished in 2004 when Nader ran for president in a campaign that attracted a great deal of attention for a third party candidate -- and was blamed by many Democrats for drawing enough votes away from Al Gore to allow George W. Bush to walk away with an extremely narrow victory. An Unreasonable Man was directed by Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan, the former of whom worked as a member of Nader's staff in the '70s.
activism, advocacy, archival-footage, career-retrospective, consumer-rights, controversial, pariah, political-campaign