Who would want to be an Politician? Apart from those who openly exploit the ‘expenses’ loophole, a political career seems a toxic career choice. Jason Reitman‘s The Front Runner focuses one one of the so called ‘Good Guys’ of American Politics, Gary Hart. The young pretender who had the keys of the White House in the grasp of his hands. Only for them to be taken away from him when he was about to open that door.
The ever reliable ‘Jack Of All Trades’ Hugh Jackman plays Hart, the Colorado Senator in question. Who in 19988 presidential election was certain to defeat George Bush Snr. But thanks to events in his personal life that got unearthed during his campaign, his Yellow Brick Road to the White House fall apart thanks to the press.
The Front Runner tone is very much feels like its Robert Altman inspired. From the opening scene we’re thrown into the chaos of the (1984) election night. Slowly the camera sweeps through the crowd as the results unravel ans the journalists and public reflect in whats just happened. Finishing on Gary Hart and his team trying to regroup. A nice montage that introduces our lead character and off course a window into the mayhem of American politics.Sadly that momentum fails to continue through the rest of the film.
Let’s get one thing straight, The Front Runner isn’t that bad a film. For a film based around a set of events you would expect a lot of questions to be asked. A lot do, unfortunately the pivotal ones don’t. The one question the film does well to answer is candidates personal lives and should it influence their ability to do their jobs, including the President. When Donald Trump takes pleasure in pleasure of making fun at disabilities, tweeting racist, xenophobic, sexist comments maybe we should be scrutinising more.
Outside the U.S, the Gary Hart story may not be as well known. Thanks to having Hugh Jackman playing Hart is a big plus. He comes across as an idealist in the political circus, taking no bullshit defending his corner admirably, Jackman is magnetic (like Hart was) in his role, whatever he does people flock and he rarely disappoints.
Sara Paxton plays the true victim of the scandal, Donna Rice. We don’t actually see what happened in detail, but Reitman gives Donna a voice when women in her position are usually forgotten about. She gives the story an human element with Ari Gaynor (as journalist Ana Devroy) and Vera Farmiga (Gary’s long suffering wife) a balanced, solid performance in a predominately toxic male environment.
The Front Runner seems to be more interested in the relationships politicians have with the press. Here in the UK if you’re not a Conservative or Nigel Farage, the media will demonise you. In the era of #MeToo if your int he forefront you probably should be rightly scrutinised. However, the press like to judge before things are resolved in the name of selling a few more newspapers.
The Front Runner may resonate with today’s political climate but fails to deliver something that just skims the surface. Nonetheless, a watchable political drama probably would have been better as a Netflix or Television film.
Paul Devine | [rating=3]
Drama | USA, 2018 |15 | DVD, Blu-Ray | 20th May 2019 (UK) | Sony Pictures Releasing | Dir. Jason Reitman | Hugh Jackman, JK Simmons, Vera Farmiga, Sara Paxton, Alfred Molina, RJ Brown, Kevin Pollak