The Front Runner (2018)
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To an extent, this is about the media's intrusion into the privacy of public officials, but that isn't examined. Nor is there any attempt to suggest a change over time to today, when a sitting president can boast about extra-marital affairs and not suffer any loss of popularity.
In the end, I was left wondering why this story was being told in 2018. It doesn't make us understand Hart, or feel sorry for him. It doesn't tell us anything either about 1988 or our own era. It doesn't make Hart a character we can feel for when he falls, because it never shows him to us as a great if flawed man. (Several characters tell us he is great, but that's not the same thing.) What was the point of filming it?
One more thing, though: it might have just been the theater I watched this in, but the sound mixing in this was atrocious. I want to watch this film again with subtitles just so that I can understand the other half of what the characters were saying.
Hart was younger than most candidates: good-looking, floppy-haired and refreshingly matter of fact in his dealings with the public and the press. Any interviews had to be about his politics: not about his family life with wife Lee (Vera Farmiga) and teenage daughter Andrea (Kaitlyn Dever).
Unfortunately, Hart has a weakness for a pretty face (or ten) and his marriage is rocky as a result: "Just don't embarrass me" is Lee's one requirement. His "nothing to hide" line to an intelligent Washington Post reporter - AJ Parker (a well cast Mamoudou Athie) - leads to a half-arsed stake-out by Miami Herald reporters and incriminating pictures linking Hart to a Miami pharmaceutical saleswoman Donna Rice (Sara Paxton). As the growing press tsunami rises, and his campaign manager (J.K. Simmons) gets more and more frustrated with him, can his candidacy survive and will his (now very much embarrassed) wife stick by him?
Hugh Jackman is perfectly cast here; very believable as the self-centred, self-righteous and stubborn politician. But this central performance is surrounded by a strong team of supporting players. Vera Farmiga is superb as the wounded wife. Sara Paxton is heartbreaking as the intelligent college girl unfairly portrayed as a "slapper" by the media. The scenes between her and Hart-staffer Irene (Molly Ephraim), trying desperately to support her as best she can, are very nicely done. J.K Simmons as campaign manager Bill Dixon is as reliable as ever. And Alfred Molina turns up as the latest film incarnation of The Post's Ben Bradlee - surely one of the most oft portrayed real-life journalists in film history.
One of my biggest dissatisfactions with the film is with the sound mixing. Was this a deliberate act by director Jason Reitman, to reflect the chaotic nature of political campaigning? Whether it was deliberate or not, much of the film's dialogue - particularly in the first 30 minutes of the film - is drowned out by background noise. Sometimes I just longed for subtitles!
The screenplay, by Matt Bai (from his source book), Jay Carson (a Clinton staffer) and director Jason Reitman might align with the story, but the big problem is that the story is just a little bit dull, particularly by today's levels of scandal. This suffers the same fate as "House of Cards" (even before the Kevin Spacey allegations) in that the shocking realities of the Trump-era have progressively neutered the shock-factor of the fiction: to the point where it starts to become boring. Here, only once or twice does the screenplay hit a winning beat: for me, it was the scenes between Donna Rice and Irene Kelly and the dramatic press conference towards the end of the film. The rest of the time, the screenplay was perfectly serviceable but nothing spectacular.
A core tenet of the film is Hart's view that politics should be about the policies and not about the personality. Looking at the subject nowadays, it's clearly a ridiculously idealistic viewpoint. Of course it matters. Politicians need to be trusted by their constituents (yeah, like that's the case in the UK and the US at the moment!) and whether or not they slap their wives around or sleep with farm animals is clearly a material factor in that relationship. But this was clearly not as much the case in the 70's as it is today, and the suggestion is that the Hart case was a turning point and a wake-up call to politicians around the world. (An interesting article by the Washington Post itself points out that this is also a simplistic view: that Hart should have been well aware of the dangerous game he was playing.)
Do you think that powerful politicos are driven to infidelity because they are powerful? Or that it is a characteristic of men who have the charisma to become political leaders in the first place? Such was the discussion my wife and I had in the car home after this film. Nature or political nurture? I'm still not sure. It's worth pointing out that to this day both Hart and Rice (interestingly, an alleged ex-girlfriend of Eagles front-man Don Henley) stick to their story that they never had sex.
The film's perfectly watchable, has great acting, but is a little bit of a non-event. The end titles came and I thought "OK, that's that then".... nothing more. If you're a fan of this style of historical political film then you probably won't be disappointed by it; if not, probably best to wait and catch this on the TV.
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This movie seemed like it would have been far more relevant if it was released during the '90s, when the term "infotainment" was coined. As it is now, it's old hat. I was only fairly familiar with the '88 Hart scandal, yet I learned almost nothing about it, and the movie never really confronts anything that it's exploring-- issues that we've seen and experienced in the American political landscape for decades. We have known for a long time that the lines of politics and news and entertainment have blurred severely. This movie plods along well-trodden ground, and it doesn't produce a truffle.
I think that J.K. Simmons' character phrased it best in this film when he flatly stated, "I don't give a f___." Skip it.
The film examines how the implosion of Hart's (Hugh Jackman) campaign is dealt with by a number of people, including his wife, Oletha "Lee" Hart (Vera Farmiga), who had asked only that he never embarrass her in public; his campaign manager, Bill Dixon (J.K. Simmons), who tried to warn Hart that the private and the public had become one; Washington Post editor Benjamin C. Bradlee (Alfred Molina), who was reluctant to wade into what he saw as tabloid territory; Hart's alleged mistress, Donna Rice (Sara Paxton), who was portrayed in the media as a bimbo homewrecker; fictional Washington Post reporter A.J. Parker (Mamoudou Athie), who covers the story with no small amount of distaste; fictional campaign scheduler Irene Kelly (Molly Ephraim), who promises Rice that she will keep her name out of the media; Miami Herald reporter Tom Fiedler (Steve Zissis), who initially broke the story of Hart's possible infidelity; Washington Post reporter Ann Devroy (Ari Graynor), who believes strength of character is just as important in a presidential candidate as policy; fictional Miami Herald publisher Bob Martindale (Kevin Pollak), who stands by the journalistic integrity of his paper; and Hart's daughter, Andrea (Kaitlyn Dever), who came out as a lesbian just prior to the scandal.
Although the film doesn't absolve Hart of being a terrible husband, it does present him as an inherently decent man trying to protect his privacy, and that of his family, against a predatory and newly mercenary media. Depicting it as more concerned with prurience than rhetoric, the film takes a dim view of the Fourth Estate (its antecedents are films such as Ace in the Hole (1951), Absence of Malice (1981), and Mad City (1997) rather than, say, The Insider (1999) or Spotlight (2015)). Following the line of the book, Reitman posits that the Miami Herald and Fiedler (who is, along with Martindale, the de facto villain) did Hart himself, the American people, and political discourse in general a grave disservice insofar as tabloid reporting of this nature has gone on to undercut serious political debate, and has thus subverted the importance of the political process, cheapening it by way of cynicism, sensationalism, and sleaze.
Although ostensibly about the events of 1987, much like BlacKkKlansman (2018), The Front Runner has one eye on the here and now, musing as to why a man who was merely accused of having an affair (an accusation that was never proved) had his political career destroyed, and yet a man accused of sexual misconduct on multiple occasions, a man who is on tape bragging about how he can sexually assault women with impunity, could be elected to the highest office in the land. The answer suggested by the film is that, since Hart, scandal has become just another aspect of politics, and that which destroyed Hart in 1987 barely made a dent on Bill Clinton in 1998 or Donald Trump in 2016. In this sense, lines such as Devroy's "anyone running for president must be held to a higher standard" are as much about Trump as they are Hart.
Essentially, the film argues that the country now has a president like Trump precisely because of what happened to Hart, and in this sense, perhaps its most salient theme is that the Hart scandal represents the point at which politics became a form of entertainment, opening the floodgates to the tabloids, whilst Hart himself became a martyr to this new style of political coverage. The film drives this message home by having Bradlee tell a story about Lyndon Johnson, who, upon becoming president in 1963 told the media, "you're going to see a lot of women coming and going, and I expect you to show me the same discretion you showed Jack." The media ignored the infidelities of Johnson and John F. Kennedy (and Franklin D. Roosevelt), reporting only on their political activities, and Hart sees no reason why things should be any different for him. In this sense, his blindness is his hamartia, ignoring Dixon when he tells him, "it's not '72 anymore Gary. It's not even '82". The landscape had changed, and Hart's inability to change with it cost him everything.
However, despite the fact that all of that should make for fascinating drama, The Front Runner doesn't really work. The most egregious problem is the depiction of Hart himself. For starters, it's questionable, at best, to portray him as the victim of an increasingly combative media, glossing over the fact that he himself was the architect of his ruination, sabotaging his own political career and humiliating his wife all because of his libido. In this post-#MeToo era, suggesting that a powerful man was wronged when he was exposed cheating is more than a little naïve. Indeed, the film seems to yearn for simpler times, when potentially great men could walk the path to positions of power, unimpeded by intelligent women speaking out against them, or diligent reporters uncovering their less wholesome activities, when infidelity remained hidden from the public. The Front Runner is not a story about a man who learns that private ethical lapses have become intertwined with public policymaking. Instead, it's about a man who was unfairly destroyed by a pernicious press for doing exactly the same thing that his predecessors had gotten away with for decades. And that's a much less interesting film.
Additionally, due to a poor script which offers Jackman little in the way of an arc, Hart barely registers as a real person, with little sense of interiority or psychological verisimilitude. Instead, he comes across as a blank slate, a cypher onto which the audience can project its own interpretation. Related to this, Reitman tells us that Hart was an outstanding candidate, offering things that others did not, and had it not been for the insidious media, he would have gone on to become a sensational president. However, the film never gets into the specifics of how exactly he was so different, what he offered that was so unique, or why he would have been such a good POTUS. Reitman asks the audience to take Hart's potential for transformative greatness on trust, never attempting to illustrate any aspect of that potential, a failing which significantly undermines his condemnation of the media.
Elsewhere, the film tries to touch on virtually every aspect of the scandal - reporter-editor meetings discussing the moral responsibility of the press; campaign staff trying to fight back against tabloidization; gumshoe reporters hiding in bushes and stalking back alleys; the strain on Hart's marriage; the effects on Donna Rice. Ultimately, it casts its net far too wide, briefly covering topics that are crying out for a more thorough engagement. For example, at one point, Rice says to Kelly, "he's a man with power and opportunity, and that takes responsibility." That's a massive statement with a lot of thematic leg-work already built in, and serious potential for probing drama, but the film fails to do anything with it, moving on to cover something else. Indeed, Sara Paxton, despite given only two scenes of note, gives a superb performance, finding in Rice a decency and intelligence, playing her as someone who wants to keep her name out of the press because she doesn't want to embarrass her family. She's an infinitely more interesting figure than Hart himself, and the film would have benefitted immeasurably from more of her.
The Front Runner is aesthetically fairly solid; well-directed, well-shot, well-edited. However, given how thematically relevant the Hart story is to the contemporary political climate in the US, especially the increasingly antagonistic relationship between the White House and the media, the script feels bland and overly simplistic. The core of the story is the question of whether or not the press was right to report on Hart's infidelity. Did the public need to know? Did it have any bearing on his ability to lead? The film answers all three questions with a resounding "no". However, the cumulative effect is of a scandal skimmed rather than explored, of characters glanced at rather than developed, of controversies summated rather than depicted. There are some positives - Farmiga and Paxton are both excellent, for example - but all in all, this is a missed opportunity, lacking both socio-political insight and satirical flair.
The movie tried to establish that the public perception of morality towards its public figures changed sometime in the 80's and that accountability for their behaviour in their private lives became news worthy. The movie implies this is a bad thing if this aspect of personal privacy deters descent candidates from applying for high office. I find this a totally morally ambiguous stance and leaves a nasty taste in the viewers mouth.
In reality, I would suggest, people either abuse power when they had obtained power, or they were perhaps better at being discreet. I won't state the obvious that the technology was perhaps not invented either.
Gary Hart had a series of tawdry affairs and was a serial adulterer, it is self-evident that this would discount him from achieving high office.
Other elements that irritated, the nasty wigs, every journalist had a smart mouth, cynicism was rife, wooden acting poor script, can you tell I just wanted to die.
After 1984 when U.S. senator Gary Hart(Hugh Jackman) had a second place finish in the democratic primary he returns four years later for the 1988 run as the top favored donkey to win the nomination. As he's a different kind a Colorado western guy who talks technology, jobs, and peace all while appealing to the youth vote. At the time Hart feels comfortable with the press, though soon he sees just what a media sideshow it has become as questions and past statements are personal and revealing.
When the press and media does detective like spy work on Hart from airports to townhouses and campaign stops it's clear that life and privacy is a no win for Gary. Overall very very good film that takes you back to the times of the late 80's just to see how powerful that the press and media can be when it reveals secrets of moral and ethic choices as it's clear it changes the game for the powerful as Gary Hart would discover and the nation would see privacy and actions are no longer a private right and when revealed moral and emotional guilt changes things forever as in 1988 this scandal was just the start for a scandal hungry media to play wolf on politics, and powerful candidates who wanted more.
Lets set the record straight. Hart was "front runner" really only before the primaries, only during the exploratory phase when the party wanted to draft Mario Coumo and Hart was virtually unknown except for his airbrushed photo. Hart only polled well against OLD Democrats. Physically old and old idea ones like Mondale and Mario Coumo. When they were out, Hart actually became the "old guy." He was not going to beat Dukakis in primary votes or in primary delegates even before he destroyed his own candidacy. The lost prince narrative is completely bogus.
Even if he won the primary, Hart was also never going to be president. The 1988 electoral vote spread was Electoral vote 426 to 111. George Bush won a higher margin of electoral votes than all but five other elections in US . In fact no US election since the 1998 George Bush landslide has the winner won by as much popular or electoral votes as Bush did in 1988. Clinton never got that proportion of popular or electoral votes, Bush's son did not, Obama did not, Trump did not. Go to Wikipedia and put in 1988 presidential elections and look at the map of electoral votes.
The ONLY thing actually interesting, dramatic or meaningful about Hart as a US poltical figure was him having affairs while married, denying it while under the deep scrutiny of national electoral politics. This was not a private citizen, or even solely a legislator this was a guy running for president who was carrying on affairs while doing so. He showed profoundly bad judgement, an amazing amount of arrogance and to top it off betrayed everyone who supported him. He was not "set up."
As far as the press, the press mostly covered for him, never reporting a string of lies and rumors until he was caught red handed --twice.
Lastly the film scene with the discussion in the Washington Post newsroom about covering "rumor" is bogus. At that point the Post KNEW hart was an inveterate liar and dishonest to his core lying continually about many aspects of his own life and bogus myths he had created.. He had even been lying about his AGE constantly claiming to be 1 to 4 years than he actually was routinely filling out forms with different ages and birthdates. What was going on at the Post was the junior editors and reporters were all Democrats and in love with Hart.
The films conceit that that Harts problem was a tabloid phenomena followed by the mainstream press getting down in the mud is just an inversion. This problem was all Harts. By the way his own campaign staff blamed Hart and Hart alone -- and still do.
The film begins in 1984 when an idealistic Hart loses the Democrat party nomination to Walter Mondale, who of course, went on to lose the national election to Ronald Reagan. It then picks up as the 1988 campaign is underway and Hart is the party frontrunner, and some say the candidate most likely to win the Presidency. Hugh Jackson plays Hart and is unfortunately burdened with an ill-fitting and distracting wig meant to emulate the lush locks sported by the youthful looking Senator. Vera Famiga plays his wife Lee, and Kaitlyn Dever plays their daughter Andrea. Casting two such fine actresses matters because of what happened during the campaign.
Senator Hart was the favored candidate of the young and the idealistic forces, though the details of his platform were never communicated clearly. Mostly, he was presented as the energetic candidate of hope versus the stodgy Republican Party that had delivered Ronald Regan for 8 years and was now looking to George Herbert Walker Bush. Everything changed for Hart when rumors of marital infidelity, and possibly even an open marriage, began to circulate. When the media asked him, he was defiant ... at times snapping in anger that his personal life was no one's business.
We are taken inside the campaign via many familiar faces, including campaign manager Bill Dixon played by JK Simmons, and a terrific turn by Molly Ephraim as staffer Irene Kelly. We are invited on board the aptly named party yacht "Monkey Business" when Hart first meets Donna Rice (Sara Paxton), setting off what could considered be the birth of political gossip-columns. The Herald and Washington Post are key players here, as are editor Ben Bradlee (Alfred Molina) and iconic journalist Bob Woodward. Apparently this is supposed to show us how politics and the media coverage of politics changed with Gary Hart.
Where the movie lets us down is in not providing any explanation to why Hart was the front runner, whether the U.S. or even the democratic party missed out on a great (or even competent) President, and how in the world Hart was so clueless as to why citizens might have an interest in his personal life activities that included sleeping with a woman (or women) that weren't his wife. By the way, the reason for the last one is character ... and we've since learned it's not as important as what we might have once thought. These are all key issues as to why this is even a story, and whether or not it's interesting enough to re-tell.
Instead of details, we are bombarded with overlapping dialogue and frenetic editing designed to generate some buzz and energy. The reality is that Gary Hart was really not that interesting, and in fact, by denying the importance of character, he thumbed his nose at his supporters. This blip on American history is simply not enough to justify a 2 hour a movie, and Mr. Jackman never seems able to capture the essence of Hart (whatever that essence might have been). There is obvious relevance to how today's press treats personal stories, but a bland candidate makes for a bland movie.
Movie: The Front Runner (2018)
Director: Jason Reitman Writers: Matt Bai, Jay Carson Stars: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons
The Acting: The movie doesn't have many special effects to battle for your attention. Instead it relies heavily on the actors to bring their talents to full speed in hopes of bringing the tale to life. Jackman leads the way with his portrayal of a council man, dropping his Australian accent for American drawl filled speeches. A balance of many emotions, he claims a victory in the polls of talent from this reviewer. Simmons as well reprises his Whiplash majestic talents to bring a counter balance to Jackman's antics. In addition Farmiga brings her talents to the screen with piano playing, voices of reason, and a nice break from the political game.
The Use Of All Characters: This film may be about Jackman's character Gary Hart, but it dives into much deeper facets of the political running for president. In doing so, all parties have a decent amount of screen time and involvement in the film, helping to add their approaches, morals, and thoughts to the collective pot of political prowess. Seeing these angles adds more dynamic nature to the film, helping to piece together the entire story at hand. And having all these characters throughout the story, should give you someone to tune your attention, should senator Hart not be the one you wish to focus on.
The Multiple Angles: Hitting each of the perspectives of this movie brings with it a more engaging film. Hart's journey for presidency is certainly very deep, and the fact it happened over three weeks, is a bit mind blowing given how much things cascaded out of control. Still, in this day and age of political fire, the supposed act may turn you off to the main storyline. So it is nice to have so many parties included in this film, each one's philosophy made apparent to show the heated war that occurs between the media and the political group. It was nice to see this approach, seeing as most political dramas get a little too embossed in the main character's agony and mistakes. The Topics Of Discussion: This movie is one designed to stimulate discussion among the group. Did the media have the right to take the stance they did? Was his actions enough to cause such an uproar? What about the individual reporters recruited in this chase? These are just some of the questions to run through the film as the events transpire. As such, the Front Runner will certainly be a valuable tool for an ethics class/lesson, helping future generations weigh the decisions in their quest for the truth. Perhaps this is the ideal place to display this piece of work.
The Speeches: Say what you want about the movie, but it gets points for the adapted script and dialogue that brings with it. The Front Runner is all about inspiring a lot of ideas and that comes through the motivational force of the writing. What is the real words and what was the magic, but the Front Runner has those moments that give you goosebumps. The turn of phrase and emotional impact of those moments will hopefully drive the point to you like it did to me. Very nice writing guys.
Slow Pace: Don't be expecting a fast-paced movie here my friends. Gary Hart's journey is very meticulous in detail, and though they skip days at a time, they do everything they can to cram the nearly 2 hour run time with all the details. If you love the drama of a modern ABC show, you'll be fine in this film, but for others like me needing a little more tension, well this won't be the film for you. Speaking of which...
No tension: Political dramas are supposed to have looming threats, with close calls and a ravenous hunger for the truth to be revealed, or at least some looming mystery. Sadly, the movie leaves these out, going for more realism and moral discussion than entertaining bouts of political angst. This is fine, except that is takes away from the theater visiting quality in this reviewer's eyes. So don't anticipate the House Of Cards spin my friends, they didn't go this route.
Some Stories Not Full Circle: A lot of plot points means a lot of threads to tie up, and this movie did a decent job of accomplishing this goal. But not all stories got the nice finish I think they deserved, primarily involving the woman he held interest in and the campaign manager. With such strong characters and the information starting to be gathered, why would they not finish in the strong manner the main tale ended? Not entirely sure myself, but given this isn't a mini-series on television, well it's no surprise.
What Is The Truth?: These movies are always generating the question of how much is truth and how much is the movie magic. Front Runner seems to be on the realistic side, but how much was left out or blurred is something to always question in these films. Depending on your political alignments, your morals on the topics of political hot topics, and other things at hand. Ergo, the movie is still up in the air of the extent of what happened. Guess we have the internet to find out.
The Front Runner may not be the political drama of the year, but it certainly brings a lot of unique perspectives on the outcomes. I myself certainly enjoyed the multiple outlooks on the event, and the topics it spurred, while of course relishing the acting and dialogue written. Yet, a little more movie magic in terms of suspense alongside some clarification of stories could have gone far for me. Nevertheless, this would have been best left to the history channel or mini-series, leaving this reserved for classroom discussions or at least in your home apartment.
My scores are:
Biography Drama: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
The performances are the main selling point here. Hugh Jackman is crisp as the popular U.S. senator who seemed destined to win the Democratic nomination. J.K. Simmons is solid as his dedicated but very practical campaign manager. And Vera Farmiga is exceptional as Hart's devoted wife who knows more than the public at first.
Unfortunately, Reitman's approach is ultimately too disengaged for this to achieve any lasting impact. The early phase of the campaign is brought to life. Soon, the film brings us to the ugliness of the missteps that left the Hart campaign in ruins. After that, it just becomes very, very... quiet.
Almost as if the film does not know what to say about investigative journalism or the shift in the public's attitude toward the personal lives of candidates for elective office, the energy and drama of the film is swiftly sucked out. All that's left is just a dirge on the public life of a supposedly great man who could have been President. Given the tremendous talent involved in this film, I mark this down as a disappointment, although it is a good sign that Reitman is once again aiming high. Not recommended.
This type of film is definitely up my alley so I was optimistic about how good the film could be considering the complete disappearance of any marketing or any award consideration. I only say this because I seem to remember reading somewhere that Sony pushed this film for the "award season" but to no avail.
Firstly the story, which I had never heard of due to a couple of reasons. Erm......this took place a little before my time and not in the country I live in, so its understandable........i think. However wow is this story juicy or what! Obviously has its sort of parallels to today and especially in the current climate in American politics. The film brings up some really interesting themes about people who run for the presidency and about their personal lives, are they entitled to a personal life or do we have to know everything about them. Also the boundaries of journalism, where is the line in the sand drawn? Did the journalists go to far or were they doing the job their payed to do??
Directing from Jason Reitman is top class, which is to be expected he has put out some decent stuff in the past. He has really got the feel right and there is a quickness to the film that I think is driven from the central character. As soon as the film starts you are immediately transported back to the late 80's.........erm I don't know how I would know because I want alive........but you know what I mean.
The cast all round is fantastic but it obviously starts with Hugh Jackman who is really good in the role of Gary Hart, one his best for a while. You could really see why Hart was such a charismatic person and how he became so popular, also how he "was" going to get the Democratic Party nomination. Praise must go to others in the cast as well Vera Farmiga, JK Simmons, Alfred Molina, Mamoudou Athie and Molly Ephraim all of them just fit so well into the film. Shoutout Bill Burr!
I must also say that I loved the parts within the Miami Herald and The Washington Post. Especially the scenes within "The Post" just has that essence of "All the Presidents Men" about it which is never a bad thing, Alfred Molina is a perfect casting.
Overall its 80% out of 100 or 8 out of 10 I really enjoyed this film and think its very good. However I must say that why has this film gone relatively unnoticed and even the reviews I have read, haven't been flattering to say the least. Why has this film got such a low score?? Im really confused??? Maybe my expectations weren't has high as everyone else's??? Or is this film not as factually accurate as it could have been??? I am bewildered, please watch it hopefully you'll be as surprised as I was!
After all, the wonderful HBO series K-Street, tackled similar themes and was cancelled after just as season, leaving one of the worst cases of an unresolved plot twist.
In today's society, this story needed a serious treatment, the kind that Altman, while he would have taken this project in a second, could not provide. Sydney Lumet could have provided a perfect setting and timing and come in under budget, but he may have come in a little flat.
But the problem we have here is that there is a reigning master of this genre. In point of fact, while they are a team, there are two.
George Cloney and Steven Soderbergh have been talking this kind of thing with aplomb for about 20 years now. How anyone could tell the Gary Hart story and leave them out of it is a sad mystery to me.
So for those of us that are fans of this genre and have seen everything from Bob Roberts to Citizen Cane, cannot, nor should we sit idly by and watch this story, which was given almost as bad a treatment as Bonfire of the Vanities, silently.
DiPalma survived it, but I don't think Jason Reitman will. There were just too many structural, basic problems with this film. Starting with Hugh Jackman who, other than being "very good looking", was a criminally bad casting choice.
Not that he's a bad actor at all. He is a wonderful talent who I hope never enters the political genre again, or I'll take the aforementioned back.
As is the talented Vera Farminga, who seemed to have the same regard for Jackman she might have for say a tomato, or a house plant.
The cavernous cast of character actors would have needed a Robert Altman just to coordinate them, or a And the Band Played On length.
God bless JK Simmons, who could make a Tide commercial Oscar worthy. Predictably great, flawless performance. He brought depth to a character the writers did everything they could to flatten out.
Maybe, just maybe this piece could have survived as the one thing they did do right was keep the audience view at a fairly tertiary level. This did manage to create some voyeuristic connection to the material, until..... until well.... the "me too" sequence.
The only real chance the audience had to form a close relationship with a character was driven by Prom Queen, Horror Film Princess, turned serious method actor Sarah Paxton. Oh Lord, was she awful!
She came in the story appearing as a mousy political groupie and left as a victimized mousy political groupie. She even had the amazing Toby Huss to prop her up, and nothing, she gave the story nothing.
The 15 or so minutes the story zoomed in on this actor did make the film drop to Bonfire of the Vanities territory. Even at her most coked up, Melanie Griffith would have done a better job.
Had this character received the same viewing as the reporters and editors and campaign staff characters, the movie still would have been bad thanks to the two leads, but at least it could pass as a valiant attempt.
I wish had more good things to say about a movie I was truly looking for a reason to like, but it was just bad. Full stop.
i like Jackman and all other actors also gave a good performance. i like political intrigue but i nearly switched it off because a drumbeat drowned out everything for the FIRST 24 MINUTES!!
it is definitely overlong, nearly 2 hours, but honest in the way it portrayed the press........it is one of those films i will not watch again.