I rarely recommend choosing the shorter version of a documentary but I must do so for As Goes Janesville. This documentary DVD features both the 54-minute Independent Lens PBS version and 88-minute theatrical version. The theatrical version is plainly too long for what is otherwise an interesting and well-told story. Instant Video at Amazon
As Goes Janesville tells the story of what happens to a small town in Rock County, Wisconsin after the GM plant closes. Half of the story is how the business people of the town get together to keep business going. This includes local bank president Mary Wilmer, one of the positive forces in this documentary even if she gets involved with some pretty shifty business people and Governor Scott Walker, former state Senator and current state senator Tim Cullen, an anti-union business owner, and the guy who runs Shine Medical Technology who wants Janesville to front him 9 million to set up in Janesville and jobs he may or may not create four years down the road.
The real interest in this documentary is what happens to 3 GM workers after the plant closes. Both Gayle Listenbee and Angie Hodges have to leave their family behind and go work at the Fort Wayne GM plant to keep any decent income coming in. Cindy Deegan does not move on to Fort Wayne but does everything right, including retraining, so she can get a halfway decent job.
The weak point of the documentary is how much space is given to Governor Scott Walker, his union busting schemes, and the recall Walker movement. There is a link to what is going on in Janesville but the Walker story overshadows what is really important.
I think director Roy Lichtenstein should have focused more if not stuck to the stories of the four women at the center of his movie. But, hey, As Goes Janesville is still an interesting enough film.
The full version features a commentary track. There are other extras such as deleted scenes.