Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart – the man who could have been the President of the United States. The Front Runner review, brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr T.
Director: Jason Reitman
Review: Based on the 2014 book ‘All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid’ by Matt Bai, The Front Runner is a political thriller about Gary Hart’s (Hugh Jackman) 1988 presidential campaign. A campaign that is derailed after rumours about his personal indiscretions come to light. The film follows Hart’s journey over three weeks, as he goes from being the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to withdrawing from the candidacy.
Hugh Jackman is incredible as the idealistic, passionate politician who seems qualified in his professional life, but cannot come to terms with the fact that privacy is dead. He seems desperate to shed the Wolverine tag and with performances like this, I think a lot more people will finally begin to see him as an actor and not a star. It’s refreshing to see Vera Farmiga in a role that’s not in The Conjuring franchise, and though her screen time is short, she makes her presence felt. JK Simmons essays the role of a jaded campaign manager with ease, and Molly Ephraim serves as the conscience of the film.
The Panavision film cameras and lenses used lend an authenticity to the proceedings, and together with the 1.85 aspect ratio, film grain and exceptional cinematography, they make you feel as if you’ve time travelled thirty years back. Everything from the oversized sweaters, the payphones, the classic cars and the film cameras are meant to induce nostalgia. The Front Runner brilliantly captures the behind-the-scenes drama of a political campaign and the nervous energy and excitement among the volunteers is palpable.
What I liked about the movie is that it never shies away from raising questions about the ethics of the kind of journalism where reporters hound families and friends of politicians, including private citizens. Nor does it attempt to become the moral police or sensationalise the personal lives of Gary Hart or Donna Rice. But while it admires Hart’s refusal to contribute to fodder for gossip, it never quite addresses the elephant in the room. In a post-Harvey Weinstein age, The Front Runner could have been a lot more impactful if it also took a stand regarding powerful men and the responsibilities they have towards their actions.
Rating: My rating is 3.5/5.
Who should watch this: People who like political thrillers are really going to enjoy The Front Runner. Also check out Chappaquiddick (2017), The Ghost Writer (2010), The Ides Of March (2011) and All the President’s Men (1976).