Imelda Marcos drives the rough streets of Manila using an expensive car. She stops, giving money to poor urchins like she’s throwing crumbs to pigeons.
While she’s doing this, a voice speaks of not wanting her around. She eventually runs out of bills and tells her chauffeur to drive on.
The Kingmaker beings as a portrait of the former Philippine First Lady. As it should, it reminds those in the know of her personal tribulations.
But part of being First Lady is that her civilian life ends. Director Lauren Greenfield eventually and smartly takes her focus off of Imelda Marcos.
Instead, Greenfield turns her lens towards the people who her husband oppressed. The Kingmaker, then, is an indictment of Marcos and her husband’s evil deeds.
Greenfield gives equal time to Marcos’ bragging about her husband building infrastructure. She then outlines the double meaning that comes with what her husband built.
One of those projects is the San Juanico Bridge between two provinces. That bridge was also a code name for a specific torture method.
There’s something interesting in the way Lauren Greenfield shoots Imelda and the Marcoses. We often see them at a distance, showing their expensive, stolen loot.
In contrast, Greenfield closes up on the dissidents during the Marcos era. All they have are their painful memories and the truth that needs telling.
Greenfield adds further context to Marcos’ husband’s rise to become a dictator. This documentary exists as a lesson, hoping leaders like them never regain power.