“You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think.” — Milton Berle

“The Congressman” opens in independent theaters around America this week, while we here in the real world are all neck deep in a vortex of duplicity, treachery, mendacity and malevolent mayhem.

“Congressman” is sort of a Jimmy Stewart goes to Washington movie. Our hero, a fictional congressman from Maine, Charlie Winship (Treat Williams), a shaggy, unkempt aging Vietnam veteran, is within shouting distance of ending his long journey for truth in the United States Congress.

Charlie, recently divorced and in the grip of apathy, sits at his desk in the halls of Congress with his feet habitually propped up on the desk. It appears that his suit is probably off the rack and only one of two he owns. Charlie, a combat veteran of Vietnam, is in his sixth term of representing his district, and his New England frugality shows in his month-old haircut and unpolished shoes. Yes, Charlie had come to see the elephants of Democracy, only to see them slaughtered. To make matters worse, Charlie refuses to stand for the pledge of allegiance.

Most of the Republicans around Charlie seem to think that it was created by our Founding Fathers, who, according to a young newsgirl, “fought and died for it.” Charlie quickly explains on news camera that the pledge was written by socialist Minister Francis Bellamy in the ’30s. Charlie makes matters worse by demonstrating how school children saluted the flag back then, which is much like the Nazi salute. It all goes, as we say now, viral.

Charlie has a bright penny of a chief of staff (a surprisingly good Ryan Merriman) who has something up his Brooks Brothers’ sleeve. Time will tell.

Lurking in the wings is a former congressman, a silver-haired, well-coifed villain with the satanic name of Laird Devereaux (George Hamilton, yes, that George Hamilton) in the mode of Utah’s dapper Orrin Hatch, who is in the pay of an international seafood conglomerate. Hamilton, in his performance, is an inch away from twirling his mustache and rubbing his hands together.

The 10 pieces of silver we hear tinkling in the background involve a plot by said conglomerate to seal a suspicious fishing grounds bill being toddled around on the floor around Charlie.

The script, written by real life ex-congressman Robert J. Mrazek and Jared Martin, takes us next on a fishing boat trip to the mythical Maine island of Caratonk (actually Monhegan, where writer/director Mrazek lives half the year now,) a scenic, almost Disney island of contentment. Except it’s not.

There is sabotage here. Fishing boats get shot at and set ablaze, and dark forces lurk in the scenic waters that are being looted by big money.

There is passion here for divorced Charlie. A 40-something librarian (Elizabeth Marvel) and trash removal Jacqueline-of-all-trades is around, all warm and glowing with unrequited passion.

Yes. Among the drop-in actors, who should appear as an angry constituent but Josh Mostel, son of the great liberal and blacklisted star of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Zero Mostel. Zero would be proud of his son.

Directors Mrazek and Jared Martin give a polished piece of work to the screen.

David Carbonara’s music is as uplifting as the story. Joe Arcidiacono’s camera knows exactly where to go, how long to stay, and when to leave each moment.

“The Congressman” as an idea is an anomaly in the present insane asylum of politics. Where up is down and black is white, “Congressman” is stunningly clear, lucid, simple, direct, honest and pure. Despite the sometimes Frank Capra-ish overglow, it is entertaining and as fresh as the ocean breeze that blows across the islands.

J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor and the author of “Will Write For Food.”

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