Politics are never my thing because it’s something that never came across as interesting. But how is it that popular politicians have to do shady things when no one is looking? Take a look at what happened to JFK and Clinton, and remember what happened to them? The Front Runner, the latest political drama from Jason Reitman, gives us a glimpse at someone’s chances to be the next big thing crash and burn.
Hugh Jackman portrays former Colorado Senator Gary Hart. He was a true frontrunner to possibly be up to be the next President of the United States in 1988. Seeming like nothing could damage his chances for the then-contender, but that’s until there’s an extramarital affair between him and model Donna Rice (Sara Paxton) after meeting in Miami, and what’s coming for him during a three week period.
The Front Runner did sound like an intriguing story. Granted, I have no idea who Hart is, and this is coming out at a time where the political world is at its worst when it comes to scandals. This is also Reitman’s second movie to be released in 2018 after the underrated Tully and I wanted to see those reviews from Telluride won’t mean a thing. Sometimes Reitman can handle a fascinating story well, but this is another one of those cases that felt flat.
Jackman does give a fine performance as Hart. He doesn’t have any particular scene that stood out, but it’s a role that calls for him to know what he should do to avoid the controversy about him. Everyone else kind of got the short stick and just feels like a waste for them in here. Alfred Molina barely had any screentime as Ben Bradlee, the editor of The Washington Post; J.K. Simmons as campaign manager Bill Dixon is a bright spot when he shows up, and Vera Farmiga is given very little playing Hart’s wife Lee.
But I was sitting through this dull and uninteresting story, a question came to mind throughout, “Why should I care about Gary’s situation?” He committed adultery in a position where new tabloids are able to capture anything in sight. It was the first of its kind back then compared to today’s standards. I’m assuming this is supposed to be some kind of allegory to what Trump’s been going through the past few years when he’s cheating on his wife? If it’s that relevant, it wasn’t clear enough to know about it. I wouldn’t even vote for him since he just comes off as arrogant. And The Front Runner never had a moment where sympathy plays a key in the story.
Almost seems like the script written by Reitman, Jay Carson and Matt Bai, who wrote the book the movie is based off titled All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, wanted to make this as some kind of All the President’s Men or The Ides of March, but never came off as important because it never delves deep into what it tries to convey at any given moment. That only that, it makes Hart to a least important character, and he the central person showed focus on. We are in a #MeToo era, so this story would have benefited by being stronger.
The Front Runner feels like a math test that didn’t get enough credit because you didn’t show your work and didn’t receive full credit. This didn’t have didn’t have any focus on any of the story. That’s how I felt about this, and it’s just a drag getting through it. Clear Oscar-bait material as a “front runner” to getting some love at the Oscar. Too bad it didn’t get any.