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Originally published Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 3:02 PM

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Movie review

'Question One' looks at Maine's same sex marriage vote

"Question One," a documentary about the referendum on same-sex marriage in Maine, is a fascinating example of politics-as-personal, says Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald. The film gives equal weight to both sides, offering insights into what "the other half" thinks. The film is playing at the Northwest Film Forum.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Question One,' a documentary directed by James Nubile and Joseph Fox. 85 minutes. Not rated. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.

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In May of 2009, the state of Maine legislatively granted same-sex couples the right to marry. Not long after, a referendum known as Question One was placed on the ballot for that year's November election: Voting yes to Question One meant a repeal of the new law; a no vote preserved marriage rights for gay couples. Documentarians Joe Fox and James Nubile ("Passing Poston"), seeing an opportunity to tell a story from both sides, embedded themselves in the Question One campaign, both for and against; bringing cameras to strategy rooms, to volunteers as they doorbelled and to the homes of those central to the campaign, pro or con.

The result is the documentary "Question One," an often fascinating examination of politics-as-personal.

"None of what I do is motivated by hate," insists the head of the Yes on One forces, who as the film progresses seems genuinely troubled by the tone of his campaign. (Against his instincts, the Yes advertising emphasized some divisive scare tactics.) Meanwhile, the No leader tells a cheering crowd that their campaign is about "love, and commitment and protections." And we come to know two women — both mothers, both churchgoers, both caretakers of a seemingly cozy and happy home — who stand on opposite sides of the issue yet seem to have much in common, and wonder what might happen if these two sat down for a pleasant coffee.

There are slow moments in the film (political strategy meetings aren't always electric to watch, no matter the topic), and the filmmakers seem to bend over backward to give everyone their say — even someone who wants to haul out that tired Adam-and-Steve line. But those who wonder what the other half thinks will be intrigued — and infuriated, and potentially inspired — by this fly-on-the-wall film.

On election night, as one side celebrates victory and the other endures a tearful (and painfully close) defeat, it feels like a little bit of history — and a reminder that some battles take time to win.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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