In the compulsively watchable “The Insurrectionist Next Door,” Alexandra Pelosi visits rank-and-file people arrested because of their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. And then, instead of condemning, she asks them about themselves. Her brisk emotional portraits of Americans are disarming, unpredictable, funny, sad, and, yes, at times enraging.
Palming her own camera, Pelosi fires away why’s and what’s-your-deal’s to her polite subjects: a genial former wrestler; a military man who shares a love of wine with his husband; a family guy with a “Proud Boy” forehead tattoo and a rabble-rousing hit rap song; and a practitioner of parkour who apparently learned about some kind of war in 1776 from a Trump speech.
Some joined the mob out of anger or boredom; others plead mass hysteria or even lovesick depression. (Jan. 6 was also a popular family road trip.) Pelosi has made films about the Tea Party and wealthy donors, and her barroom directness feels sincere, while also being canny. She even asks someone about the targeting of her mother, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, on Jan. 6, when the filmmaker too was in the Capitol.
The terrifying attacks are not excused or minimized, and Pelosi acknowledges that these “normies” were very useful for the goals of militant organizations. She also presses the convicted on their blind devotion to President Trump. Yet it’s possible to feel despair despite the bluff banter: Yes, but now what?
In the end, as a document, it’s undeniable: The unvarnished human detail gives the film a life of its own that escapes any particular polemic or hope.
The Insurrectionist Next Door
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes. Watch on Max.