In 2002, Bolivian politician Pedro Gallo hires American James Carville's political consulting firm, Greenberg Carville Shrum, to help him win the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. GCS brings in Jane Bodine to manage the campaign in Bolivia. Battling her arch nemesis, the opposition's political consultant Pat Candy. Written by
Mostly shot the film in New Orleans, LA and Puerto Rico. See more »
When the characters speak in Spanish, most of them have Mexican accents (including and most obviously Eduardo Camacho.) No real Bolivian accents are heard in the movie. See more »
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
Oh, look. Come on, we don't wanna hear any more Sun Tzu.
It is not Sun Tzu. It's Muhammad Ali.
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Three things I learned from watching David Gordon Green's Our Brand is Crisis: 1. Politics is universally corrupt—The Bolivian election "Calamity" Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is hired as a strategist for has the very machinations extant in our own balloting as I write this column.
2. What a candidate does after election may have nothing to do what he or she promised to get elected.
3. Sandra Bullock can act--heretofore I have not been impressed, but in this film she sheds her cute starlet demeanor and plays a bright, depressive, frequently losing marketing adviser with enough brilliance left after her battles to pull together a competitive campaign. Her fragile nature combined with grit makes for a moderately complicated character.
Our Brand is Crisis, adapted by director David Gordon Green and writer Peter Straughan from Rachel Boynton's 2005 documentary of the same name, is sometimes uncompromising about the low-ball shenanigans of a campaign, with tricks such as spreading lies about an opponent or spreading lies about your candidate to allow him to deny and ascribe the rumor to his opponent.
It is gratifying to see that Jane is not above dirty tricks, nor does she win each skirmish with the likes of her marketing opponent, Pat Brady (a slick, smarmy, bald Billy Bob Thornton, based on Clinton strategist James Carville).
Jane's past includes a stint at a mental hospital and questionable tactics, one of which apparently led to a suicide. She is not the usual glam Bullock; rather she is a shaggy, disheveled blond with self doubt and frequently nauseous from the Bolivian altitude. At any rate she is not the consultant Senator Castillo (Joaquin de Almeida) thought he was paying for.
Nor does the film give her transcendent moments of inspiration: What comes of success is learned experience and a bit of luck. No deus ex machina in this drama. In fact, as Green marries her pratfalls with her sometimes drunken speech, it's difficult to see where the usually focused Green and his movie want us to go: Drama? Comedy? Satire?
The differences between what Jane wants from the candidate and what he wants provide effective moments of speechifying that illuminate the process and develop character. Ben (Anthony Mackie), who runs the campaign, has the right stuff to hire Jane and question her methods while retaining a healthy sense of humor.
Our Brand is Crisis is a not-too-subtle look into politics and marketing. Although you won't be surprised, you will be gratified that what you suspected about the dirty tactics that go along with each is true. Just put a few top actors in the roles, and you will believe.
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