In 1987, U.S. Senator Gary Hart's presidential campaign is derailed when he's caught in a scandalous love affair.In 1987, U.S. Senator Gary Hart's presidential campaign is derailed when he's caught in a scandalous love affair.In 1987, U.S. Senator Gary Hart's presidential campaign is derailed when he's caught in a scandalous love affair.
A vehicle for Jackman, but little else
'The Front Runner' is a film that, despite its heavy political background, is more focused on the personal story of its titular character, Gary Hart. Reitman's film both benefits and suffers for this, depending on the type of audience member you are. Should you be expecting a dense political drama, evolving from a campaign and policy focused narrative into more of a personal crisis, you may be disappointed. The political background is present, but irrelevant in the overarching narrative, instead revealing itself to purely be a character-driven drama. 'The Front Runner' is not about the difficulties of running for president, but more about how the media can tarnish one's livelihood, and their treatment to Hart, whilst arguably justified, appears alarmingly savage when compared to Trump's America and the conspiracies plaguing his presidency. As a result, the film is surprisingly relevant today, but more down to coincidence than planned. Despite this, Jackman's performance may be a standout in his career, serving as the lifeblood of this story - his peak dramatic moments are unmatched throughout the film. This performance may well create a contender come awards season, as he skillfully fluctuates from a good-natured family man, to a paranoid mess, and everything in-between. Furthermore, the film's reluctance to take a side regarding the prevalent issues it discusses is bolstered by Jackman creating a character that is not good or bad, neither morally grey, forming someone who is undoubtable real. As a result, when Jackman is at his best, 'The Front Runner' achieves dizzying heights, serving as a relentlessly compelling character piece, however, upon his absence, which serves as a large portion of the film, it can become overly slow and laborious, leaving the audience striving for his return. Furthermore, the conclusion appears anti-climactic which, unavoidable as it may be considering this is a true story, nonetheless ends with a squeak rather than a shout. The narrative aside, the film is technically well-constructed, opening with a gorgeous long-take that establishes the time and setting with efficiency, an illusion that holds up throughout. Even the use of title-cards establishing locations are reminiscent of films made in the late-80's and early 90's, this attention to detail reminiscent of a director who cares for the source material. Reitman is, by this point, an experienced director, and his confidence is visible here, however, it feels as though the stellar direction and performances deserve more than this generic, somewhat unfulfilling narrative can provide.
- Oct 16, 2018
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