The Front Runner – Film Review by Katie McCann
Director: Jason Reitman
Writers: Matt Bai, Jay Carson
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons
The Front Runner tells the tale of doomed Presidential hopeful Gary Hart, who ran for the democratic nomination back in 1987. The film follows his 3 week fall from grace and how the press were responsible for ending his promising political career. Starring the ever charming Hugh Jackman, the film aims to take us deep into the heart of how such a promising career can end so dramatically. Yet sadly, overall the film lacks a punch especially when you compare it to the drama of our current political landscape.
The Front Runner is a well-made and considerate film aiming to take stock of all sides of the story as much as possible. Gary Hart, by all accounts, was a much beloved and genuinely inspiring candidate that seemed like he might be able to make some real changes in American politics. Unfortunately for him, and his entire team, he had a habit of sleeping with women who were not his wife. What is so interesting is how insignificant a thing like this is now in the current state of politics. It is hard to watch this film and not think about all the allegations that are aimed at the current President of the United states and how infidelity doesn’t seem to have any effect on his poll numbers or popularity. Yet for Hart it was career destroying. I can only imagine how annoyed Hart must be reading about how the current President literally paid off a porn star after his affair.
Hugh Jackman gives a well-considered and thoughtful performance as Gary Hart, showing off his charm but also his darker side. There are comments made by females on his team and journalists on the road about how his womanising is a systematic problem, hinting at the Me Too and Times Up Movement that at this point was still to come. It feels like the Front Runner already knows it is dated in theme and is trying to reach beyond its time, and it does this to relative success showing us how far we have fallen. That politics are no longer about politics, but about show business.
Mostly, it is too drawn out and it is hard to really get behind any of the characters. Yet as a time capsule of an era where politicians seemed to have some morals it is an interesting watch. That said, if you are looking for real edge of your seat political drama you might be better off tuning into Sky News.