Joan Allen is terrific. Jeff Bridges is marvelous. But...it is Gary Oldman who steals the film away from both of these actors, with his ELECTRIFYING portrayal of the snakelike, sinewy adversary to Joan Allen's possible confirmation for Vice President of the United States.
By now, most of you know the storyline of this film. She is
up before the senate hearings, for confirmation as Vice President. Senator Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman) is her foe, who thinks she is unworthy because of many reasons - but uses a past sexual incident in her life, attempting to discredit her, and, ultimately, destroy her.
There is a magical thing that happens when Gary Oldman is on the screen. Were he not in this film, one might be tempted to ask, "Who cares?", in regard to whether Joan Allen's character gets the Vice Presidency or not. When Gary Oldman is on the screen, you CARE. You care, because he MAKES you care. His performance is so gripping, that you become interested in everything he says or does - and therefore, you are drawn into the plot, actually caring about its outcome.
Gary Oldman is probably the best actor alive today. He is never given the credit that is due him (without a doubt), and he is, quite often, misunderstood by common critics. They mistake the absolute purity of his performances, for "over-acting". This is because these critics, themselves, have not the depth to understand what it is that Gary Oldman does. And that is simple. He gives it his all. He is so convincing, so utterly brilliant, that one is sometimes embarrassed by relating to him. One can
almost feel what he goes through, right or wrong, and that is
often too painful for some of those who do not have a clue as to what true, raw emotions LOOK like. They look like what Gary Oldman makes us feel - uncomfortable or not.
The film is good. The story is good. The cast is good. But it is Gary Oldman who gives this film - and other films in which he appears - greatness.
There is some rumour that Mr. Oldman had a tough time as Executive Producer of this film. IF that's true, it's a shame. He deserves more integrity from those with which he works; he is the one who so markedly GIVES that integrity in his performance.
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