Friday, July 10, 2020

Review The Front Runner (2018)

#TheFrontRunner (2018): 6/10

The Front Runner was directed by Jason Reitman (‘Thank You For Smoking’, ‘Juno’), and tells the story of Gary Hart’s presidential campaign in 1988 which took a disastrous turn, all captured in the book from which the film is based, “All The Truth Is Out” by Matt Bai.

The film does take a little time to settle and for the plot to establish exactly what is going on and who is who, but once the film is in full swing it’s a captivating watch. Hugh Jackman is terrific, but then when is he not? His charisma and confidence shine through. J.K. Simmons is once again at his snappy best as campaign manager Bill Dixon, but feels under-utilised. In fact many of the side-characters feel underdeveloped, making it difficult to really feel invested in them and their role within the film. We would’ve liked to have seen more from Vera Farmiga (‘The Conjuring’ film series) also, who takes on the role of Hart’s wife Lee.

The screenplay almost feels like it’s split in half; the first showing Hart and his sensational rise in popularity, gathering momentum, the second almost a polar opposite, as the media frenzy brings the campaign to its knees, not only affecting Hart’s wife and daughter but also his aides and campaign volunteers; the family and lady involved in the affair in particular smothered by the claustrophobic feeling of constant media attention.

The Front Runner is probably not as riveting as Reitman believes it to be, but serves as a thought-provoking and an intriguing foray into the world of American politics, particularly for those that have no prior knowledge of the presidential campaign system nor the history of this remarkable series of events.

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